UN expert says Mynamar government employs starvation policy in Rakhine

Photo of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee gives her report next to the Chairperson of the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar Marzuki Darusman, during the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Mar 12, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 13 March 2018
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UN expert says Mynamar government employs starvation policy in Rakhine

GENEVA: The Myanmarese government appears to be pursuing a policy of starvation in Rakhine state to force out the remaining Muslim Rohingya population, a UN investigator said on Monday.
The military has also started new offensives in Kachin and Kayin states, Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Lee said atrocities against the Rohingya Muslim minority “bear the hallmarks of genocide.” She called for the council to set up an entity in Bangladesh, where more than 650,000 Rohingya have fled, to collect evidence for potential trials.
Myanmar’s envoy Htin Lynn rejected Lee’s remarks and called for the council to fire her.
Lee said the violence in Rakhine had eclipsed anything seen in recent years in Myanmar, where the government has also fought insurgents in Shan, Kayin and Kachin states.
She had received information that the military mounted new ground offensives last week using heavy artillery in Kachin’s gold and amber-mining area of Tanai.
Myanmar’s military had also advanced into Mutraw District in Kayin State, an area controlled by the Karen National Union, despite a cease-fire agreement, she said.
“This cease-fire violation led to 1,500 villagers from 15 villages having to flee. I am very concerned about these continuing offensives; the path to peace is through inclusive political dialogue, and not through military force,” she said.
In Rakhine state, Myanmar appeared to be pursuing a policy of forced starvation to make life there unsustainable for the Rohingya, Lee said.
Marzuki Darusman, chairman of a fact-finding mission on Myanmar set up by the council, said his team had received a flood of allegations against the security forces in Rakhine, Kachin, Shan and elsewhere.
“All the information collected by the Fact-Finding Mission so far further points to violence of an extremely cruel nature, including against women,” he said.
“The Fact-Finding Mission has met with women who showed fresh and deep bite marks on their faces and bodies sustained during acts of sexual violence.”
Myanmar’s ambassador Lynn did not respond to the criticism in detail but told the council it was wrong to assert that Myanmar’s leadership remained indifferent to the allegations.
“Our leadership and the government shall never tolerate such crimes. We are ready to take action, where there is the evidence,” he said.


Afghan leaders ‘optimistic’ over Taliban peace talks

Updated 24 June 2018
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Afghan leaders ‘optimistic’ over Taliban peace talks

  • The Taliban last week rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce, but a government spokesman said on Saturday that the government was optimistic the militants were willing to engage in peace talks.
  • After ending the truce, the Taliban said its attacks against foreign troops and Afghans supporting them would continue.

KABUL: The Afghan government is confident of holding peace talks with Taliban militants despite a recent surge of attacks by insurgents, a palace spokesman said.

Shah Hussain Murtazawi said the announcement last week of a brief truce by the Taliban over Eid, the increasing movement of extremists and some field commanders to government-held areas, and a call for peace by the Imam of Makkah and the Saudi monarch were the basis of the government’s optimism.

The Taliban last week rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce, but Murtazawi said on Saturday that the government was optimistic the militants were willing to engage in peace talks.

“A new chapter has been opened and the broad support for a cease-fire and an end to the war are the causes for our optimism,” he told Arab News.

“The fact that Taliban announced a truce and their commanders came into towns and celebrated Eid with government officials are positive signs that the extremists will be ready for talks with the government.”

However, no contact has been established with leaders of the group since the militants called off their truce, Murtazawi said.

After ending the truce, the Taliban said its attacks against foreign troops and Afghans supporting them would continue. Scores of Afghan troops have been killed in a spate of attacks, including assaults on military bases where the insurgents joined government forces to celebrate Eid.

Some tribal chiefs and local officials are calling for “safe zones” where extremists can hold initial talks with the government, according to a local official who refused to be named.