By Haroon Yousuf, The Stateless Rohingya (TSR) Article
FRANCE: The ongoing Myanmar military operation in northern part of restive Rakhine State is a perfect opportunity for Myanmar generals. It is like killing two birds in one stone.
Rakhine State which has seen a horrendous genocidal campaign against Rohingya in June 2012, remains one of a strategic regions of the military for its survival since the country has opened up to the outside world after more than 50 of isolation.
The defeat of military-back party, USDP in 2015 General Election has reduced the military assertive power in the new government led by Aung San Suu Kyi who was once denied to ascend to power after the landslide victory in 1990 General Election.
Before Aung San Suu Kyi appointed NLD member, Nyi Pu as Rakhine State’s Chief Minister, the army and Rakhine nationalist ANP party have contested for the position by allegedly accusing Rohingya continue to entry illegally into the country through highly guarded border.
The loss of chief minister position is a big blow to the military. Yet a bigger blow came when Aung San Suu Kyi appointed former general-secretary Kofi Annan as the head of Commission of Inquiry in Rakhine State, which has threatened both the military and the Rakhine nationalists for their participation in the genocide against Rohingya.
When a group of unknown assailants attacked Border Guard Police command centre in Kyikanpan and police outposts in Kotankauk and Ngakhya on October 9, it strikes a perfect opportunity to kill two birds in one stone.
The military has quickly pointed the finger to one of the world’s most persecuted people, Rohingya who are reduced to Statelessness striping of citizenship, denying of basic human rights and committing countless of atrocities since the founder of current military regime (not the one founded by General Aung San) General Ne Win to power in the coup in 1962.
On the same day, the military launched offensive operation in northern Maungdaw Township where the majority are Rohingya Muslims. Hundreds of ground, naval, air and police forces are deployed along with the announcement of the State of Emergency and the extension of Curfew from 7pm to 6am only applicable to Rohingya, not Rakhine Buddhists.
Since then, the forces are in full spree of extrajudicial killings of Rohingya civilians including children, women, elderly, scholars and youths. Their rampageous operation has so far taken nearly 200 of Rohingya lives killed in close range, buried in mass graves and left in villages and paddy fields as warnings.
Besides extrajudicial killings, hundreds of Rohingya arbitrarily arrested under false-allegations made against them being part of the alleged attackers. Many of the arrestees are reportedly killed in tortures for which the military is known for.
Rape is another tool the military is using against the oppressed Rohingya. More than 60 rapes are being reported since the operation was launched although the exact number is expected to be much higher as many rape victims do not feel conformable to report the atrocity.
After raiding and setting fire village after village, more than 15,000 Rohingya become homeless; on October 23 the whole middle hamlet of Kyikanpyin village was given ultimatum to vacant within 3 hours effectively causing nearly 600 households shelterless and at the same time humanitarian access being blocked by the military to which UN and many human rights organization expressed their deep concerns.
Besides the military carrying out atrocities under the “clearance” military operation, it is the perfect time to kill another bird – stopping Mr. Kofi Annan’s visit to Maungdaw District on October 21 which they successfully accomplished.
Having repeatedly rejected the appointment of Mr. Kofi Annan in the commission, the military finds the exact strike to delay or belittle the commission as well as to apply assertive military power showing the importance of military presence and at the same time to lessen the influence of NLD government in Rakhine State.
Despite the loss in the election, the commander-in-chief of Myanmar, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, still holds key ministries such as defence, home affairs and border affairs.