Myanmar army chief defiant after UN ‘genocide’ probe
Yangon, September 24
Myanmar’s powerful army chief says the United Nations has no right to interfere in his country’s sovereignty, a week after UN investigators called for him and other top generals to be prosecuted for “genocide” against the Rohingya.
Min Aung Hlaing’s comments to an army newspaper were his first public reaction since a UN fact-finding mission urged the Security Council to refer the top military brass to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
They came as the UN General Assembly prepares to discuss the crisis in New York.
Min Aung Hlaing also shrugged off demands from UN investigators for the army to withdraw from politics in Myanmar, where it remains hugely influential despite a nominal transition to civilian rule in 2011.
No country, organisation or group has the “right to interfere in and make decision over sovereignty of a country”, military-run newspaper Myawady quoted him as telling troops in a speech Sunday.
“Talks to meddle in internal affairs (cause) misunderstanding.” The 444-page UN probe report, compiled over 18 months, outlined in meticulous and searing detail atrocities against the Rohingya, who fled a violent military campaign that started in August last year.
Troops, sometimes aided by ethnic Rakhine mobs, committed murder, rape, arson and torture, using unfathomable levels of violence and with a total disregard for human life, investigators concluded.
More than 700,000 of the stateless Muslim minority took refuge in Bangladesh, where they remain – fearful of returning to mainly Buddhist Myanmar despite a repatriation deal between the two countries.
The military has denied nearly all wrongdoing, justifying its crackdown as a legitimate means of rooting out Rohingya militants.