Months after Rohingya Muslims were forced out of Myanmar by violence, govt inquiry finds 'no crimes against humanity'

Yangon: The Myanmar government's inquiry into violence in northern Rakhine state in 2016 that forced tens of thousands of Muslim Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh and led to United Nations accusations of crimes against humanity by the army has concluded that no such crimes happened.

Representational image. Image courtesy Rajeev Bhattacharyya

Representational image. Image courtesy Rajeev Bhattacharyya

Speaking at the release of the Rakhine Investigative Commission's final report, Vice-President Myint Swe — a former general — told reporters on Sunday that "there is no evidence of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights claimed."

He also denied charges that there had been gang rapes by the military as it swept through Rohingya villages in a security clearance operation. The army was reacting to deadly attacks against border police posts by a previously unknown insurgent group in October 2016 in the Maungdaw area of Rakhine.

The commission's report did accept that some things might have happened that broke the law, attributing it to excessive action on the part of individual members of the security forces.

Rights groups have previously expressed their doubts over the commission's work, saying it lacked outside experts, had poor research methodologies and lacked credibility because it was not independent.

The United Nations has mandated its own fact-finding mission to travel to the Maungdaw area to conduct its own inquiry, but the government has said its members will not be allowed to go.

Zaw Myint Pe, a senior member of the government commission, said the report released by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Of in early February, which included accusations of rights abuses by security forces, had failed to take into consideration violent acts committed by Muslim groups.

"The report does not contain forward-looking constructive recommendations but instead accuses Myanmar of committing genocide and ethnic cleansing by killing Muslims and it is terribly affecting our country's image," said Zaw Myint Pe.

The government has shut down northern Rakhine, where the allegations of right abuses are ongoing, to independent journalists, rights experts and humanitarian workers for almost nine months. The security forces launched an aggressive clearance operation in Rakhine in October 2016 after shadowy insurgents killed nine border guard police officers.

Updated Date: Aug 07, 2017 08:17 AM

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