The August 25 attacks on 30 police stations and an army base in Myanmar’s Rakhine state is a clear indication that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) is attempting to establish an “Islamic State” in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, Home Affairs Minister Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe said on Tuesday (Aug 29).
Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe and national security advisor U Thaung Tun on Tuesday briefed diplomats and UN agencies on the current situation in the restive Rakhine state at the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre in Yangon. U Thaung Tun said the attacks have serious implications not only for Myanmar but also for the region and beyond, The Irrawaddy Online reported.
Police Brig-Gen Win Tun claimed that the ARSA have territorial ambitions. “They plan to take over the area as a ‘Bengali-only land’”, he said. The home affairs minister also supported Win Tun’s comments, saying the ARSA plotted to take Maugdaw and Buthidaung townships. He added that the terrorists were trying to dismantle the local administrative structure.
However, ARSA has announced in a series of statements that it is committed to securing citizenship and basic civil rights within Myanmar for the Rohingya and has insisted that the group does not target civilians. The Myanmar government has also implicated international aid groups with the insurgents by repeatedly posting pictures of World Food Programme energy biscuits allegedly found at a insurgents’ camp. The US and British embassies have condemned the August 25 attacks, stressing that innocent civilians should be protected and supported.
The attacks left about 100 people killed, including 80 insurgents, according to the government’s report. Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Tuesday (Aug 29) called on Myanmar authorities to issue clear instructions to security forces to refrain from using disproportionate force, minimize damage and injuries and respect the right to life. “The State has a duty to protect those within its territory – without discrimination,” stated Mr. Zeid. Thai PBS