Myanmar government investigation claims ‘no campaign of abuse’ in Rakhine

Armed police conduct search operations at Warpait village in Maungdaw, located in Rakhine State, on October 14, 2016 as the government announced that terror groups were behind the series of attacks. Photo: Ye Aung Thu/AFP

The Myanmar government’s commission on Sunday cleared Myanmar security forces of claims of systematic rape, murder and arson against Muslims in Rakhine, dismissing UN allegations of widespread abuses during a recent crackdown.

The commission examined the deadly violence which began in Rakhine State in October last year after attacks by Rohingya militants on police posts near the Bangladesh border.

The Myanmar government typically refers to the Rohingya as Bengalis.

Speaking at a press conference following the release of the Rakhine Investigative Commission’s final report, Vice President Myint Swe told reporters that the commission found no evidence that Myanmar security forces carried out a systematic campaign of rape, murder or arson.

However, the commission believes that there may have been excessive actions that were likely committed by low-rank individual members of the security forces.

"Some incidents (of abuse) appeared to be fabricated... others had little evidence," according to a press release by the commission.

The commission responded to a detailed report by the UN's Human Rights Office released in February this year.That report said it was "very likely" that crimes against humanity had been committed during the crackdown.

The government commission, however, said "no such cases were uncovered." The commission said the UN findings lacked balance and failed to recognise the gravity of the attacks by Rohingya militants.

The commission conceded that foreign media and NGOs should have been granted access to the zone during the conflict to dispel misconceptions.

It also called for rights training for low-level security officers, urged local officials to tackle corruption and called for swift and fair trials of suspected militants.  

Mizzima. Additional reporting by AFP

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