Senior General Min Aung Hlaing receives Mr. Jonathan Powell from Inter Mediate of Britain.
Nay Pyi Taw May 12
Myanmar has religious freedom and has recognized Islam since time immemorial. But Myanmar does not recognize Rohingya, but acknowledges them as Bengali as they come from the land of Bengal. Myanmar has many people including Bengalis who profess Islam. Islam is legally acknowledged. The local ethnics as well as the Myanmar people have never accepted Bengalis’ attempt to name themselves Rohingya and create a new situation, said Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing at his meeting with the representatives of Inter Mediate of Britain led by Mr. Jonathan Powell at the parlour of Bayintnaung Villa here at 9 am yesterday.
Present together with the Senior General at the call were Chief of the General Staff (Army, Navy and Air) General Mya Tun Oo and Lt-Gen Soe Htut of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief (Army). Mr. Jonathan Powell was accompanied by retired general Sir Rupert Smith, Sir Hugh Orde, Military Attaché Colonel Nigel Goodwin and officials.
At the call, Mr. Jonathan Powell and delegation members discussed their experiences in solving conflicts and peace process in Northern Ireland, Africa and Columbia and the rendering of assistance in the Myanmar peace process and Rakhine issue.
As to the peace issue, the Senior General stressed the need for creators of armed conflicts to have a real desire for peace and the ongoing multi-party democracy road. If they want to see peace and walk on the multi-party democracy road, they must be able to distinguish between right and wrong about their armed struggle line. Next, he continued to explain Myanmar’s political situations from 1948 when independence was regained to the current age of multi-party democracy, reform processes and armed conflicts.
The delegation members gave views and suggestions on Myanmar’s peace process. Regarding the Rakhine issue, they suggested that unlike other peace processes, that issue should be addressed in a different way based on experiences they gained from Northern Ireland.
Then, the Senior General explained different natures and ideologies of NCA signatory ethnic armed groups and non-signatories, implementation of the peace process based on those different natures, difficult but coordinated measures being taken by the government and Tatmadaw as the political concepts of some groups deviate much from the path to multi-party democracy the country is taking, concerns raised by some groups over racism and oppression of the people in the past and the necessity to make coordination and ensure guarantees and mutual trust over those issues.
With regard to the issue of Rakhine State, the Senior General said Rakhine State is one of the parts in Myanmar, and Bengalis in that region came from Bengal region and lived in the country. In the past, Bengalis were the minority while local Rakhine ethnics were the majority in the region. As Rakhine ethnics became the minority and Bengalis were the majority of the region gradually, effective security measures were taken for the territory of Myanmar. The Tatmadaw has responsibility to defend the State. In the past, the Tatmadaw and police discharged security duty in the region. In the time of the military government, the border region immigration inspection headquarters was formed with personnel from the Tatmadaw, Myanmar Police Force, Immigration and Population Department and Customs Department. In 2012, the headquarters was abolished under the demand, and the Myanmar Police Force started taking responsibility of security measures. As the terrorist attack at the Border Guard Police Headquarters and outposts occurred in October 2016, the Tatmadaw helped the police take security measures. Now, the police members are discharging security duty there. Such occurrence was similar to that of Northern Ireland. Local ethnics in Rakhine State and Myanmar people do not accept using the word that Bengalis call themselves as Rohingya. First, they must accept themselves Bengalis, not Rohingya. Thanks to accepting that concept, both sides will have lesser pressures. Then, those who reside in that region need to accept enumeration, registration, and citizenship scrutiny under the law. In any country, the authorities have the authority to inspect those who arrive in the country.After accepting the scrutiny and having been recognized as citizenship, they can enjoy the rights under the law.
After the meeting, the Senior General presented the gift to Mr. Jonathan Powell from Inter Mediate of Britain.