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Rohingya not native, Myanmar army chief says

While immigration increased under British rule, historians say Muslim communities were recorded as living in the Rakhine region long before the colonial era.

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Rohingya are not native to Myanmar and were brought by British colonialists, the country’s powerful army chief told the US ambassador.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing gave his most extensive account of the Rohingya refugee crisis in the meeting with American Ambassador Scot Marciel, according to a report posted on his Facebook page on Thursday.

The general is the most powerful person in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and his apparently uncompromising stance would indicate little sensitivity over the crisis, in which more than 500,000 people have fled into neighbouring Bangladesh.

Min Aung Hlaing, referring to Rohingya by the term “Bengali”, which they regard as derogatory, said British colonialists were responsible for the problem.

“The Bengalis were not taken into the country by Myanmar but by the colonialists,” he told Marciel, according to the account of the meeting posted on Thursday.

“They are not the natives and the records prove that they were not even called Rohingya but just Bengalis during the colonial period.”

The UN human rights office said on Wednesday that Myanmar’s security forces had brutally driven out half a million Rohingya from northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh, torching their homes, crops and villages to prevent them from returning.

Coordinated Rohingya rebel attacks on some 30 security posts on August 25 sparked a ferocious military response.

The UN rights office said in its report, based on 65 interviews with Rohingya who had arrived in Bangladesh, that abuses had begun before the August 25 attacks and included killings, torture, and the rape of children.

The country’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi is due to make a speech on television later on Thursday.

She was swept into office last year after winning an election, but the military holds immense power, including exclusive say over security.

“Local Bengalis were involved in the attacks under the leadership of ARSA. That is why they might have fled as they feel insecure,” Min Aung Hlaing said, referring to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army fighters.

Min Aung Hlaing, whom rights groups say carries personal responsibility for the crisis, insisted the Rohingya are merely returning to their motherland.

“The native place of Bengalis is really Bengal,” he said. “They might have fled to the other country with the same language, race and culture as theirs, assuming they would be safer there.”

He said it was an exaggeration to say the number fleeing to Bangladesh was “very large”, adding that there had been “instigation and propaganda by using the media from behind the scenes”.

While immigration increased under British rule, historians say Muslim communities were recorded as living in the Rakhine region long before the colonial era.

This week, an AFP reporter on a rare government-steered trip to the conflict-hit Rakhine heard testimony from Rohingya villagers who are scared and fast running out of food.

They said Buddhist villagers are trying to starve them out of their homes.

 

World

Suicide attack near US embassy in Montenegro

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US Embassy
Image: Reuters

Podgorcia, Feb 22: An unidentified man on Thursday threw a hand grenade near U.S. embassy compound in Montenegro before blowing himself up.

“In front of the USEmbassy MNE building in Podgorica, Montenegro an unknown person committed suicide with an explosive device. Immediately before, that person threw an explosive device,” the Montenegrin government tweeted, adding that the device was “most probably” a hand grenade.

As of now, no casualties or loss of property has been reported.

WeForNews 

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World

44 killed in Peru bus accident

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Peru bus accident
Photo taken on Feb. 21, 2018 shows the site of a bus accident off a highway in Camana, Arequipa, Peru. (P C-Xinhua)

Lima, Feb 22: At least 44 people were killed and 24 others injured when a bus skidded off the road and plunged into a river in Peru’s Arequipa region, authorities said.

Seven of the injured are in serious condition, including three children, reports Efe news agency.

Health workers transport a man injured in a bus crash in Arequipa, Peru, on Wednesday. At least 25 people were killed when their bus veered off a highway and tumbled 200 meters down a cliff. (Photo Credit: AP)

The accident occurred on Wednesday on the Pan-American Highway.

The authorities were still trying to determine what caused the bus to skid off the road and plunge 200 metres into the Ocona River.

The bus was travelling from Chala to Arequipa city, and was running on an expired operating permit, the transportation ministry said.

“My condolences to the families of the victims of the transit accident in Arequipa,” President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski tweeted.

IANS

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South Asia

Pakistan Supreme Court orders ex-PM Nawaz Sharif removed as head of his political party – judge

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nawaz sharief

ISLAMABAD: In another blow to the ruling PML-N, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday ruled that a disqualified individual cannot head a political party.

The apex court elaborated that a person disqualified under Article 62, 63 of the Constitution can not head the party. As a result of this verdict, all decisions taken by Nawaz as PML-N’s president stand null and void.

As a consequence, Senate tickets issued by Nawaz are also declared void, throwing the fate of March 3 Senate elections in doubt.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar concluded on Thursday the hearings of several petitions against the recently-passed Elections Act 2017.

A three-member bench had been hearing several petitions challenging specific clauses of the act that led to Nawaz Sharif’s appointment as party president following his dismissal as prime minister last year.

During today’s hearing, the chief justice remarked that the country’s leadership is respectable, adding that the media misreported the court’s remarks.

Chief Justice Nisar also observed that there is no reason for the apex court to use words like thief, adding that the fallout of the issue is unacceptable.

Addressing the Pakistan Peoples Party counsel Latif Khosa during the hearing, the chief justice remarked that there would be a difference in rallies held by you or [slain party leader and former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto.

Another petitioner’s counsel, Farogh Naseem, argued that there is a precedent of a court order against a political party’s head.

The chief justice remarked that in other countries intra-party elections are held but the situation is different in Pakistan.

“The party head is an important position,” the chief justice observed, adding that in Pakistan people are willing to sacrifice their lives for their leaders.

Disqualification to party president
Following Nawaz’s disqualification as prime minister in July 2017 in the Panama Papers case, the ruling party managed to amend the Constitution to allow the former premier to retain his chairmanship of the PML-N.

As a result, the Elections Act 2017 was passed by Parliament bringing Nawaz back as the party president despite his disqualification from the National Assembly.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, MNA Jamshaid Dasti, National Party and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), among others, challenged the law for allowing a disqualified parliamentarian to become a party head.

The petitions, challenging specific clauses of the Elections Act 2017, state that Nawaz’s appointment as party president is in violation of Clause 5 of the Political Parties Order 2002 and Article 17 of the Constitution.

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