Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Myanmar police to arm and train Rakhine Buddhists

In Mogher mulluk every lawlessness is possible so the latest development that should not surprised us. Myanmar police will begin arming and training non-Muslim residents in the troubled north of Rakhine State, where officials say militants from the Rohingya Muslim group pose a growing security threat, police and civilian officials said.

Rakhine State police chief Colonel Sein Lwin told Reuters his force had started recruiting new "regional police" from among the ethnic Rakhine and other non-Muslim ethnic minorities living in Maungdaw.

Candidates who did not meet the educational attainment standards, or criteria such as minimum height, required for recruitment by the regular police would be accepted for the scheme, he said.

"But they have to be the residents," said Sein Lwin. "They will have to serve at their own places."

Police Captain Lin Lin Oo said initially 100 recruits aged between 18 and 35 would undergo an accelerated 16-week training programme, beginning in the state capital Sittwe on Nov. 7.

 "They will be given weapons and other equipment, like police," said Lin Lin Oo, an aide to the commander of the border police in Maungdaw, who will oversee the auxiliary force.

Police and civilian officials said the auxiliary police recruits would not form a new "people's militia", like those that fight ethnic insurgencies elsewhere in Myanmar.

Such militias - which are often accused of abuses against civilians - raise their own funds and are overseen by the army. The new recruits in Rakhine will be paid and come under the control of the border police.

But international experts working to rebuild relations in Rakhine, and human rights groups, say arming and training local non-Muslims could make the situation on the ground worse.

"It's sad and telling that the authorities regard this move as part of a security solution," said Matthew Smith, founder of Fortify Rights, a campaign group.

Arming local Buddhists who may regard all Rohingyas a threat to their safety was "a recipe for atrocity crimes", Smith said. "It can only inflame the situation and will likely lead to unnecessary violence."

A Rohingya community leader in Maungdaw, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said he was concerned Muslims might come under attack form the newly armed recruits.

"If they have guns in their hands, we won't be able to work together as before," he said.

As one may recall, the Rakhine-inflicted extermination campaign in 2012 had already shown the ugly side of Buddhism and Myanmarism in this den of intolerance. But if one could overlook such crimes happening during the military regime, what excuse does Myanmar have today under a civil government that is run by Suu Kyi? Shame on her government!

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