Myanmar army should be removed from politics: UN probe

 In a final report released on Sept 18, 2018, a UN probe says six members of Myanmar's military including commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing be investigated for 'genocide' against the Rohingya.
In a final report released on Sept 18, 2018, a UN probe says six members of Myanmar's military including commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing be investigated for 'genocide' against the Rohingya.PHOTO: AFP

YANGON • Myanmar's powerful army should be removed from politics, UN investigators said yesterday in the final version of a damning report reiterating calls for top generals to be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

A brutal military crackdown last year forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee over the border to Bangladesh. Demands have mounted for those who waged the campaign to face justice.

The 444-page United Nations probe report is the most meticulous breakdown of the violence to date.

It says the military's top leadership should be overhauled and have no further influence over the country's governance.

Myanmar's military dominates the Buddhist-majority nation, holding a quarter of seats in Parliament and controlling three ministries, making its grip on power firm despite political reforms which began in 2011.

But the report says the country's civilian leadership "should further pursue the removal of the Tatmadaw from Myanmar's political life", referring to the nation's armed forces.

The UN's analysis, based on 18 months of work and more than 850 in-depth interviews, urges the international community to investigate the military top brass, including commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, for genocide.

Myanmar's army has denied nearly all wrongdoing, insisting its campaign was justified to root out Rohingya insurgents who staged deadly raids on border posts in August last year.

But the UN team says the military's tactics had been "consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats".

The report says an estimated 10,000 people were killed in the crackdown and that was likely a conservative figure.

Investigators said the Tatmadaw should be restructured and the process should begin by replacing the current leadership.

Myanmar only recently emerged from almost a half-century of military junta rule and Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's democratically elected government remains in a delicate power balance with the generals.

The military officers' presence in Parliament gives them an effective veto on constitutional changes, making any transition to full civilian control extremely difficult.

The mission, created by the UN Human Rights Council in March last year, also directed specific criticism at Ms Suu Kyi, whose global reputation has been shattered by her failure to speak up for the Rohingya.

The investigators also pointed to failings of the UN's office within Myanmar, alleging that "quiet diplomacy" was prioritised.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2018, with the headline 'Myanmar army should be removed from politics: UN probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe