Blunder Embrace, Bizarre Coincidence, False Flag and Ugly Campaign against Rohingya

By Haikal Mansor

Days after U.S. lifting of sanctions, another nightmare for Rohingya takes place in Northern Rakhine State

The wounds and the nightmares of 2012 Genocidal Campaign barely disappear and the removal of Myanmar military officers from the U.S. blacklist hardly enters into second day, another episode of military operation against the minority Rohingya Muslims in the Northern Rakhine (Arakan) State unfolds targeting what the United Nations (UN) described as “one of the world’s most persecuted people”.

A Blunder embrace

On Friday, October 7, the Obama Administration lifted the remaining sanctions imposed in 1997 on Myanmar including military officials and cronies tied to the former military regime. The lifting of sanctions received a wide criticism from national and international human rights organizations. The move is viewed not a way of easing economic restrictions, rather a blunder embrace of notorious military generals and cronies who have ruled Myanmar for more than 50 years and brought the country into an impoverished state, and continue to commit human rights abuses and atrocities in minority regions in the north, the east and the west of borders.

Although the pariah state officially ended after Aung San Suu Kyi’s led NLD (National League for Democracy) won the landslide victory in November 8, 2015 general election, the key ministries such as defence, home affairs and border affairs are still under the control of commander-in-chief of Myanmar armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

Bizarre coincidence or pre-planned campaign

It is no coincidence that just four days (September 14, 2016) after Myanmar’s de factor leader Aung San Suu Kyi met Obama in the Oval Office persuading the Washington government to lift the sanctions, Rakhine State’s Border Affairs Minister Colonel Htein Linn threatened to bulldoze 2,270 buildings including 9 mosques, 24 madrasas, 1,667 Rohingya houses, 445 shops and 125 other buildings in Maungdaw township and another 1,056 buildings – 3 mosques, 11 madrasas, 876 houses, 159 shops and 7 other buildings in Buthidaung township, what the official termed as “illegal buildings”.

However, the plan was unsuccessful after mounting international pressure from national and international NGOs, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) being one of them, on both Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and the Rakhine State authorities to halt the demolition, protect religious sites and uphold the right to freedom of religion.

It is too true to be a merely a bizarre coincidence, rather a pre-planned campaign.

It is only a day since the complete lifting of sanctions imposed on the powerful military officers, another cataclysmic military operation roams in the overwhelming Rohingya majority township.

Maungdaw is one of the last two remaining towns (another being Buthidaung) which affected less in terms of mass displacement and killing like the total uprooting of Rohingya population from downtown Sittwe, the capital of the state during 2012 Genocidal Campaign, though the entire Rohingya in the township and others live in the state of Apartheid – restrictions on religion, movement, marriage, education, healthcare, livelihood, excessive taxation, land confiscation, arbitrary arrest, torture, etc.

At 2 am local time on Sunday, a clash broke out between Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) and an unknown militant group, what many consider to be either Arakan Army (AA) or Arakan Liberation Army (ALA) which are Rakhine armed groups and intensified fighting against Myanmar army in recent years.

The clash took place in the Central Command Centre stationed in Kyi Kan Pyin (Hawar Bil), later reported in Thanwan Chaung (Bossara) and Rwa Nyu (Rwáingga Daung). According to various sources, it already claimed more than 3 police lives and lost of many government-owned handguns and ammunitions to the militants.

A false flag and ugly campaign

False-flagged military operations are not unknown to Rohingya. The minority Muslims are frequent targets of unsuccessful military regimes’ unrelenting offensive operations to implement discriminatory policies and laws, divert attention from the country’s impoverished state and the pickpocketing of billions of dollar from natural resources.

For all the military, the Buddhist fanatics, the separatist Rakhine militants and the Rakhine radical politicians, there is one group to blame – RSO (Rohingya Solidarity Organization). The organization is so popular in Myanmar’s nationalist political circle and mainstream media that often been cited in the pursuit of extremist political and religious ideologies towards Rohingya.

Although the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank has declared RSO as “essentially defunct as an armed organization”, RSO is still blamed for today’s clash in Northern Maungdaw, to divert the clash between the government and (what to be) the Rakhine militants, and at the same time launching ugly aggressive campaign which the government failed against Rohingya in Northern Rakhine State in 2012.

According to various Rohingya sources, hundreds of military and police stormed into several Rohingya villages setting fire houses, arresting and killing a number of Rohingya from the region.

It now unsettles Rohingya in Rakhine State, particularly Maungdaw and Buthidaung with the similar nightmares of 2012 Genocidal Campaign.

More questions remain unanswered

Is it to prevent former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan’s visit Maungdaw which is scheduled between 20 and 21 October?

Is it to destabilize Aung San Suu Kyi’s steering effort of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State that Rakhine hardliners have rejected?

Could it be the military’s strategy to wither the influence of NLD government and put the western gate under their control?