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January 23, 2020

UNHCR that needs impartiality

  • By Min Thi Ha


Before 2015, all the areas, except from Buthidaung and Maungtaw regions where ARSA terrorist insurgents were active, of Rakhine State were peaceful and stable areas. Beginning 2015, AA group entered Rakhine State, and peace and stability in the northern parts of the state started to deteriorate. Since then the AA group has been continuously attacking police outposts stationed in the regions for enforcing the rule of law and community security, intimidating or murdering village administrators or forcing them into leaving their job, and blowing up mines to cut off communication lines, mainly targeting the administrative and security machinery and the rule of law of the Government. On 26 July 2019 at 4.15 am, AA group using a strong force attacked the Nyaungchaung area police station with heavy weapons and small arms. A policy company led by a police major of the police border guards was posted at the police station to shoulder the duty of ensuring community peace, the rule of law and area security at Nyaungchaung Village in Buthidaung Township. The police station did not fall thanks to the police members who valiantly defended their station. However, the AA group indiscriminately fired shots at Muslim villages along their retreating route. Three Muslim women were wounded and one house caught fire due to the indiscriminate attack. The three wounded Muslim women were admitted at Buthidaung People’s Hospital at 11.45 am the same day, and the Tatmadaw provided necessary assistance to repair the house that caught fire.
The abovementioned event is one of the most obvious instances of AA attacks. Although there are many instances of AA group’s destructive acts against the rule of law and community peace, it is found that the UN, NGOs and the media never give faithful accounts of the events. As regards the current situation of Rakhine State, Ms. Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNHCR), released a Press Briefing Note “Myanmar Military Target Civilians in Deadly Helicopter Attack, UN Rights Office issues War Crimes Warning” on the news website of the UN on 5 April 2019.What the Note stated was that again the Myanmar Tatmadaw was committing an offense that might amount to war crimes against the civilians at the time when the international community was pressing forward with demands for accountability of the Myanmar Tatmadaw for its past crimes; and that the consequences of impunity would continue to be deadly. The Note also condemned the armed clashes between the Myanmar Tatmadaw and the AA group in Rakhine State; that civilians including native Rakhine, Chin, Mro and Daingnet people of Rakhine and Chin states and people of Muslim community lost their homes, property and cultural heritage due to the armed conflicts; that at least seven Muslims were killed and another 18 wounded when two Tatmadaw helicopter launched an aerial strike against Phonnyoleik Village-Tract in the southern part of Buthidaung Township on 3 April 2019, that not long ago many Muslims had to leave their homes in the area; that according to news of UNHCR Office, about 4,000 Muslims of the villages along Buthidaung-Yathedaung road fled their homes during the period from 25 to 31 March; that it wanted to urge the Tatmadaw and AA to hold a ceasefire; and that early sending of humanitarian aid to all the places in northern Rakhine had become a requirement.
A study of the Note revealed that the Note constituted partiality, and was baseless and a compilation of wrong information and analysis; and that the Note was found to be a means of a mere propaganda for generating sympathy for the Muslims. An official news release of what really happened on 3 April was issued on 4 April. The Tatmadaw received information which said that about 150 AA members arrived at the surrounding areas of Saidin Creek in the east of Wakhotechaung Village on 3 April afternoon; and that they were going to attack, threaten and control Buthidaung Town and the surrounding villages including the Wakhotechaung Village. The Tatmadaw acted fast and struck first in crushing them. Thanks to the quick response of the Tatmadaw, the AA members could not disturb the town and villages. They could only fire heavy weapons rounds at a local battalion headquarters near Phonnyoleik Village in Buthidaung Township from afar in the evening.
In the afternoon shootout to crush the AA group, six Muslims who were together with the AA members at the time died and another nine were injured. The Muslims gave bamboo cutting as a reason for being found together with the AA members. They were killed or wounded in the clash. The UN Website stated that the people of the Muslim villages fled their homes because of the said armed clashes. But on the ground, Muslims have never left their homes till now, and they are living peacefully. If Ms. Ravina Shamdasani, the compiler of the Note, visits the place she can witness the true situation.
In its armed engagements with armed groups, the Myanmar Tatmadaw rarely uses aerial supporting fire. It uses the least air power only at times when it is actually required. The Tatmadaw always act in accordance with the Principle of Distinction and Proportionality of the law of Armed Conflict. If the OHCHR has the video documents as stated in the UN release, instead of conducting a bias campaign to disgrace the Tatmadaw, it should officially send the video clips to the Myanmar Government or the Tatmadaw, and the Tatmadaw will render cooperation if it does so. The section 337 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (2008) states: The main armed force of the Defence of the Union is the Defence Services (Tatmadaw). In accordance with the stipulation, the Tatmadaw is exposing the illegal armed groups and terrorists, and establishing checkpoints, conducting security checks in accordance with the guidance of the Government to take legal action against them. In doing so, the Tatmadaw is strictly observing the principles of Distinction, Proportionality, humanity, military necessity, of the law of Armed conflict, rules of engagement (ROE), Penal Code, anti-terrorism law and of the common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, in which Republic of the Union of Myanmar is a State Party, and the domestic laws and procedures.
AA group is committing lawless cruelties with the aim of destroying the administrative machinery and functions to enforce the rule of law of the State and peace and stability of Rakhine State. So, the local people in the surrounding areas are living in fear and are subject to their forced labour. Taking advantage of the situation AA group is using wards and villages as cover in firing at and launching mine attacks against Tatmadaw security columns. And after the armed clashes that occurred near wards or villages the insurgents disguise themselves as villagers or force villagers to spread false information and those insurgents are also posting fabrications on the Websites to give public a wrong view.
In one of the obvious instances, woman known as writer Nwe Thaki posed a fabricated live broadcast on the social media about the gun attack against police superintendent of Teinnyo Police post in Mrauk-U Township at about 7.30 pm on 23 March 2019 to give people a wrong impression of the Tatmadaw. When an investigation was made, it was found that she was a Rakhine woman who lived in Lashio and not in Rakhine State; and that she had already fled. A lawsuit has been filed to take legal action against her. Moreover, when a battle broke out at Teinnyo-Aukthakan Village on 29 March 2019, there were fabrications saying that many residents including two women were died or wounded when the Tatmadaw schemed a plot and indiscriminately opened fire at them. The administrator of Aukthakan Village 5 disclosed the truth about the situation and the Tatmadaw released news about it in time on 29 and 30 March 2019. Lawsuit was filed against her. She is still at large. The Note does not mention any of the terrorist acts and cruelties of AA group as if the UN has never heard of them. Instead, it acknowledged only the projected rumors spread by the AA members under the guise of natives or by the residents who were forced to do so by the insurgents. So, it is clear that the UN disregarding its neutral status is making intentional accusations against the Tatmadaw.
It is a common knowledge that “Unum Quiten Exant Accusationes” (One Sided Accusations) are not legal internally or internationally. The act of releasing bias news against the Myanmar Tatmadaw while ignoring the authentic and firm news releases and the truth is against the international legal procedures and also causes doubts about impartiality of persons who compile or release the news. Stop gross distortion or misrepresentation of the facts or the truth!


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