United Nations Condemns Myanmar Military Attack On Civilians

The United Nations has recently openly condemned the actions of Myanmar against the civilian Rohingya population of the Rhakine state. The recent efforts to fight off the Arakan army within the area has led to civilians being put in the line of fire, leading to the numbers of dead and displaced growing further. The most recent attack on Wednesday the 3rd was carried out on the village of South Buthidaung, which saw two military helicopters open fire on civilians that were working in the paddy fields. The most recent fighting has displaced 20,000 of the native Rhakine population, adding to the many that have already fled the townships.

Spokeswoman of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani issued a statement condemning the actions of Myanmar’s military in the engagement. In her statement, she said, “We are deeply disturbed by the intensification of the conflict in Rakhine State in recent weeks, and condemn what appear to be indiscriminate attacks and attacks directed at civilians by the Myanmar military and armed fighters.” Representative of the Arakan army Khin Thu Kha spoke about the Wednesday attack and the statements that the Myanmar military was attacking Arakan Army terrorists, countering that the Myanmar military forces dispatched their “bombed everywhere, believing there were Arakan Army members in the jungle.”

The problems that exist in the state of Myanmar are well documented and storied. The attacks on the people of the Rhakine state have been ongoing for decades, with the latest attacks launched on the members of the Arakan army by the state military being just the latest in a series of racially motivated slaughter. The government of Myanmar has used the existence of the Arakan army to launch further incursions into the area, perpetuating a cycle that has been ongoing. The grim situation in Myanmar will be unlikely to change without a drastic change to the societal view of the Arakanese within the state, or pressure is placed on Myanmar from the International community to change.

The Arakan army was formed in 2009 on the 10th of April, alongside the political body the United League of Arakan. The goal of the army is to seek out the self-determination of the Arakan population that exists within the Rhakine state and have become situated primarily close to the Thai-Myanmar border. They have been engaging with the Tatmadaw, the Myanmar armed forces, ever since and have been involved in a number of skirmishes with state forces. The Arakan army represents the further degradation of the Myanmar-Rhakine relationship, showcasing just how poor they have become that many believe armed conflict to be the only solution to the decades of attack.

The situation in Myanmar has been dire for many years. The sectarian violence that has now come to characterize the region in many people’s eyes has only grown worse as the decades have continued. The Wednesday attacks on civilians within the Rhakine state represent only the latest in a long, violent conflict that seemingly seems to be continuing without any end in sight. However, the greater attention that has been levelled towards the conflict by the United Nations among other international actors (Particularly Bangladesh) indicate that perhaps the scale and seriousness of the conflict is finally starting to be recognized. And with this recognition and condemnation, perhaps international pressure can help produce a more peaceful solution to this ongoing conflict.

Joshua Robinson