Myanmar army chief Min Aung Hlaing has told military personnel that they must obey the law, citing as an example the sentencing of seven soldiers for a massacre of Rohingya Muslim men following the terrorist attacks on security forces in Rakhine state in August last year.
According to a post on his official Facebook page on Thursday, Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in a speech at a military school in the country’s north on 18 April told soldiers, “As the Tatmadaw is an organization armed in accord with the law, Tatmadaw members must try to understand the civil and military laws and live and act under the discipline in serving their duties. They must abide by the military codes of conduct and international laws and conventions.”
“One cannot commit a crime because one has no legal knowledge and no one is above the law. Actions will be taken if someone breaks the law. The problems in Indin Village, Buthidaung-Maungtaw region were solved in line with the Geneva Convention and legal action was taken against military officers and other ranks who failed to respect the law,” said Min Aung Hlaing, in his first direct comment on the massacre of the Rohingya Muslims by the army.
Seven soldiers were sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor this month for killing 10 Rohingya Muslims in the village of Inn Din, in northwestern Rakhine state, last September.
A violent military crackdown in Rakhine state has forced exodus of some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims, a long-persecuted stateless minority, into Bangladesh since August 2017 following the attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) terrorists.
The Myanmar Army chief, however, accused the Rohingyas of fleeing to Bangladesh out of fear for punishment for their lawless acts.
He was quoted as saying in his speech posted on his official Facebook page:
“In October 2016, Bengali terrorists with superior manpower attacked police posts, looted guns and brutally killed local ethnics and security troops. As their acts were lawless, the Tatmadaw launched area clearance operation. As similar attacks were carried out in August 2017, operation was conducted in accord with the law. As a result, the Bengali terrorists failed to achieve their aim.
“Fearing punishment for their lawless acts, they as well as their families, relatives and accomplices fled to the other country. As they did not dare to come back for fear of punishment, they made false accusations against the Tatmadaw to mislead the international community.”
Myanmar has faced international condemnation for human rights violations against the Rohingyas during and after the military campaign following the terrorist attacks in August 2017. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in September 2017 called these atrocities against Rohingyas “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
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