Myanmar National Security Advisor addresses UNSC


Myanmar National Security Adviser Thaung Tun during the Security Council meeting to discuss the violence in Myanmar at the United Nations in New York September 28, 2017. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP

On 28 September 2017,National Security Advisor to the Union Government of Myanmar by H.E.  U Thaung Tun, addressed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)on the situation in Myanmar, the following is his statement in full.

“Mr. President,

I thank you for the opportunity to address the Security Council with regard to the turmoil that has recently be fallen Myanmar's Rakhine State and the ensuing humanitarian situation.

I have listened carefully to the statements made by the distinguished Secretary General and the representatives of the member states of the Council.

The common thread that runs through the commentaries is the allusion that "something is rotten in the state of Rakhine." Assertions in the media that a campaign of terror has been unleashed in Northern Rakhine and that unspeakable crimes have been committed against innocent people have only served to heighten the concern of the international community. While such assertions might appear reasonable at first glance to a lay observer, expert observers with knowledge of the history of Myanmar and exposure to the propaganda tactics of terrorists will see such comments for what they really are - malicious and unsubstantiated chatter.

Nevertheless, we understand the concern of the international community and take serious note of it.

Mr. President,

I would like to take this opportunity to apprise you of the situation obtaining on the ground and of our efforts to end the violence, assist all innocent civilians affected by the turmoil and plans to find a lasting solution to the daunting challenges we face.

First, we recognize that there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

But we need to recognize that the recent violence was triggered by the attacks carried out by so-called ARSA terrorist group. 

We are committed to a sustainable solution that will lead to peace, stability, development and the return of displaced communities to their homes.

The current situation precipitated by the attacks of the ARSA terrorists on 30 police outposts in the early hours of 25 August resulting in the death of 12 security officers, one immigration officer, one soldier and a number of innocent civilians. Security forces were obliged to defend themselves.

We feel deeply for the suffering and plight of all affected communities - Rakhine, Muslim, Daingnet, Mro, Thet, Maramagyi and Hindu. They are all victims of violence and terrorism.

Terrorism constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. It has no place in our civilized world. I am sure you will agree with me when I say that we cannot condone terrorism in any form and manifestation.

The government of Myanmar has strongly condemned the acts of terror committed by ARSA innorthern Rakhine.  The highest Islamic organization in Myanmar, the "All Myanmar Islamic Religious Organization" as well as the "Interfaith Dialogue Group of Myanmar" have expressed their solidarity with the government and issued statements condemning the acts of terror committed by ARSA. They stressed that no religion can condone violence that result inthe loss of life and property. They expressed their support for the government's efforts to address the situation in Rakhine and its endeavours to promote national reconciliation and peace in the entire country.

The government will work to ensure that the fight against terrorism will not distract us from our commitment to bring peace, harmony and development to Rakhine State. It is striving to restore normalcy, there have been no armed clashes and clearance operations since September 5.

Second, I wish to stress that there is no ethnic cleansing and genocide in Myanmar.

Ethnic cleansing and genocide are serious charges and that they should not be used lightly. It would be a sad commentary of our times ifwe allowed emotions to cloud our view and assert that what is happening in Rakhine is ethnic cleansing without first undertaking a legal review and making a judicial determination. I can assure you that the leaders of Myanmar, who have been struggling solong forfreedom and humanrights, will never espouse policy ofgenocide orethnic cleansing and the government will doeverything toprevent it.

As clearly stated by the State Counsellor in her address to the diplomatic corps inNay PyiTaw  on  19 September,  we condemn  all human  rights  violation  and violence. We are committed to the restoration of peace, stability and rule of law throughout the state.  Security forces have been instructed to adhere strictly to the Code of Conduct incarrying outsecurity operations, toexercise all due restraint, and to take full measures to avoid collateral damage and the harming ofinnocent civilians.

Myanmar is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world.  It is home to 135officially recognized ethnic groups, each with its own distinctive culture and adherence   to   a varietyof religions, including   Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Hinduism.  Religious groups have been living in harmony throughout our history.

The situation that we face today is due to terrorism and is not based on religion.

It should benoted that Muslims are not aminority innorthern Rakhine.  They constitute 95% of the total population.  What is little known is that the vast majority of Muslims   did not abandon their hearth and home.  While there has been an exodus, more than 5 0% of the Muslim villages in northern Rakhine remain intact.

Representatives   of the diplomatic corps inYangon, accompanied by the media, will visit northernRakhine on Monday.   They will have the opportunityto witnessfirst-hand thesituation on the ground.

The SecretaryGeneral has also been invited to visit Myanmar.We hope to welcome   him in the near future to enhance cooperationbetween Myanmar andthe United Nations.

Third, the government of Myanmar is fully aware of its primary responsibility to address the humanitarian situation.

We have been providing assistance to all displaced peoplewithout discrimination. We are collaboratingwith the Red Cross Movementand donor countries to provide assistance expeditiously in accordance   with humanitarian principles.   The ASEANCoordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) has agreed to work with us to deliver humanitarian assistance to the displaced inhabitants.

Fourth,we are concerned by reports that thousands of people have crossed into Bangladesh. We would like to fathom reasons for the exodus. We will talk to those who have fled as well as to those who have opted to remain in their villages.

Some hundreds of Muslim villagers left their homes and headed towards the border notwithstanding the efforts of the regional authorities to persuade them to return to their villages. The villagers voiced their concerns regardingthe availability of humanitarian assistance in a sustained manner as well as fears that they are becoming a minority in their own area.

It is learnt that the villagers have been threatened over the telephone and that they have been persuaded by their fellow men who are already in Bangladesh to join them. Moreover, the villagers remain fearful ofretaliation by the ARSA following the revelation that a large number of Hindu villagers have been massacred and buried in mass graves.

The authorities have reassured the villagers that they would be provided assistance and security. However, some chose to cross over to Bangladesh.

There has been a growing clamour for repatriation of refugees who have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Myanmar is prepared to start the verification process at any time. Our two neighbours have had the experience of such a process in 1993.

We are working to enhance relations with Bangladesh. I have met with the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh in New York and the Minister of the Office of the State Counsellor will visit Dhaka this weekend to further discuss matters of mutual concern. We have also invited the Minister of Home Affairs of Bangladesh. We will welcome him any time that he is able to come to Myanmar and hope to take forward our cooperation on border security matters.

Our stated willingness to discuss the issue of repatriation gives the lie to the assertion that there is a policy of ethnic cleansing on our part. 

Mr. President,

The new government in Myamnar inherited achallenging situation in RakhineState and has had to deal with the consequences of actions by other actors.

The current crisis is due to the acts of terror perpetrated by ARSA. To address the situation, the government   launched   a numberof initiatives   including   the Rakhine Advisory   Commission   chaired byDr.Kofi Annan.  The recommendation of the Kofi Annan Commission represents a viable roadmap toforge forward.  An implementation committee for the recommendations   has already been formed and work has begun.

At this criticaljuncture in the life of our young democracy, it is imperative that the international community join hands with us to ensure that democracy takes firm root and that we will succeed in carrying out our responsibility to establish peace, stability, and development inRakhine and in the whole of Myanmar.”

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