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Seminar on “The Rohingya Crisis: Background & Security Aspects’’

Friday, 20th October 2017 — Mr Ye Htut, Visiting Senior Fellow at the ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute gave an interesting presentation on the background and context of the Rohingya crisis in northern Rakhine state, bringing out information that is generally not well known.  Previously Minister of Information and Spokesperson for the President Thein Sein during the latter’s reformist government, Ye Htut’s seminar attracted a large audience of nearly 100 people, comprising students, academic, media and members of the public.

 Mr Ye Htut discussing the background and context of the Rohingya crisis in northern Rakhine state (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Mr Ye Htut began with a historical introduction to the Bengali community in Rakhine state, pointing out that the region has a history of separatism and communal violence since 1948.   The latest violence in 2016 and 2017 mounted by ARSA was facilitated by the enfeeblement of the intelligence network after the sacking of military intelligence chief General Khin Nyunt and later the disbanding of Na Sa Ka which was crucial in verifying citizenship processes and performing administrative functions such as mapping and registration. Since the collapse of these two bodies, intelligence on separatist movements and illegal drug trafficking operations in the Northern Rakhine has been lacking. Furthermore, the new security forces were staffed with inexperienced officers who were uninformed about the religious and cultural practices of local communities.

 From left to right: Mr Daljit Singh and  Mr Ye Htut during the presentation (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

He drew attention to the emergence of the sophisticated terrorist group ARSA, with ties to extremists in Pakistan and the Middle East. Hence the ongoing violence could potentially become a new frontier for ISIS extremists to infiltrate. After an interactive discussion with the audience, Mr Ye concluded by emphasizing the conduct of counter-terrorism operations within the boundaries of international and human rights laws. He pointed out that the Myanmar military was well-aware of the importance of not damaging the international image of Myanmar.

Nearly 100 people, comprising students, academic, media and members of the public attended the seminar (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)