January 16, 2018
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Myanmar army chief accuses media of exaggerating Rohingya exodus

Bangkok, Oct 12 (efe-epa).- Myanmar's army chief accused the media of exaggerating the numbers of Rohingya muslims who have fled to Bangladesh since the end of August, according to the transcript of a meeting that was posted on his social media page Thursday.

During a formal meeting Wednesday with United States Ambassador Scot Marciel in Naipyidaw, General Min Aung Hlaing accused the media of hiding the truth behind a campaign of instigation and propaganda and called the Rohingyas illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

"Under British colonialism in 1824 Bengalis from Bengal entered the region as farm labourers (...). Those Bengalis permanently settled at the region. And later their population gradually increased (...). They are not the natives (Burmese)," Hlaing had said according to the transcript of the meeting published Thursday on his official Facebook page.

The UN has accused Myanmar of an ethnic cleansing campaign, led by Hlaing, against the Rohingyas, who are denied citizenship rights in the country although many of them claim to have lived there through generations.

On Wednesday, the UN said the Myanmar army was not just driving away the Rohingyas from Myanmar but also preventing their return by placing anti-personnel mines at the border.

A UN human rights team that carried out an on-ground investigation, had concluded that the brutal attacks were well-organized, coordinated and systematic.

The report said the strategy consisted of inciting deep fear and trauma at a physical, emotional and psychological level.

The method used by the Myanmar army to force the Rohingyas to flee clearly indicated that they wanted to eliminate any possibility of their return and which is why entire villages were razed, summary executions were carried out along with torture and sexual violence, said the investigation.

According to the UN, some 590,000 Rohingyas have fled the Rakhine state in northwestern Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when the Myanmar army had unleashed a military offensive in the region in response to attacks by Rohingya rebels on multiple government posts.

More than one million Rohingyas who lived in Rakhine have been victims of persecution since the outbreak of sectarian violence in 2012, which left at least 160 dead, and confined around 120,000 to 67 camps for displaced people.

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