The World

Jan 19, 2018

The Myanmar military has a long, practised and sordid history of deceit

In times of national crisis, Myanmar’s martial tradition of dissembling and deceit, often breathtaking in its audacity, stretches back to the army’s earliest forays into national politics.

Sean Gleeson — Digital editor, Frontier magazine, Myanmar

Sean Gleeson

Digital editor, Frontier magazine, Myanmar

In this Oct. 29, 2017, photo, participants with national and military flags attend a ceremony supporting the country's military and government servants in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s military, once despised for its stranglehold on the country, has seen its popularity surge alongside a rise in nationalism that has accompanied a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

In one sense, this month’s admission by Myanmar’s military leadership that its soldiers had participated in the unlawful killing of Rohingya Muslims is unprecedented. This is the first time that the Tatmadaw, as Myanmar’s armed forces is known, has copped to any systematic wrongdoing in northern Rakhine State, until recently home to the bulk of the country’s long-suffering stateless Rohingya minority.

It’s a stunning reversal from the army’s own internal investigation, published last November, that exonerated soldiers in Rakhine from any wrongdoing whatsoever, in the face of damning testimony from refugees, satellite imagery chronicling the deliberate razing of Rohingya villages, and a Medecins Sans Frontieres report concluding that at least 6700 civilians were killed in the first month of the conflict alone.

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2 thoughts on “The Myanmar military has a long, practised and sordid history of deceit

  1. AR

    Suu Kyi is, whatever the bien pissant try to pretend or believe, above all else her father’s daughter, a Burman first, last and only.

    1. DF

      The late Australian journalist, Deborah Cheeseman, on a tourist visa, entered Burma in 1997 and interviewed Suu Kyi, who was not then under house arrest. She later told me that among her questions, she asked Suu Kyi what was her policy with regard to the Rohingyas. Ms Cheeseman paraphrased Suu Kyi’s response as “Well they can jump up and down all they like but I have bigger fish to fry”.

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