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Rule of law solution to Rakhine crisis: Myanmar

IANS | Nay Pyi Taw |

A Myanmar government committee investigating the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine state said adhering to the rule of law was the best means to resolve the ongoing humanitarian crisis, a statement said on Friday.

A panel was set up this week to find “pragmatic” solutions to restore “security and the rule of law” in Rakhine, from where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya minority Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since an August 25 rebel attack on military and police outposts, reports Efe news.

The committee was convened to implement recommendations presented on August 24 by the Advisory Commission, a group of international observers led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the statement said.

A day before the current violence erupted, Annan had presented a plan to Myanmar authorities to deal with the sectarian problems between the Rohingya and the Buddhist majority gripping Rakhine state.

The UN estimates that at least 370,000 have so far fled across the border with about a 1,000 casualties since the crisis erupted.

Meanwhile, Zaw Htay, a spokesman for Myanmar’s Presidential Office, said the reason people abandoned their homes was that many were told to leave by family members who were involved in terrorist activities.

“Some of them are directly involved with terrorist activities and some are sympathizers for the terrorist group,” Zaw Htay wrote in an email to CNN on Thursday.

“And some are running away to avoid arrest by police because they had some connections with the terrorist group.”

The government has said that 176 out of 471, or 37.4 per cent of all Rohingya villages were now empty of people, and an additional 34 villages were “partially abandoned”.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, when asked on Wednesday if he considered the displacement of thousands of Rohingyas to be ethnic cleansing, said: “When one-third of the Rohingya population has got to flee the country, can you find a better word to describe it?”

“I call on Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country.”

Prior to the current wave of violence, Myanmar’s population of Rohingya was estimated to number about 1 million.