Min Aung Hlaing: The Man Directly Responsible For Rohingya Genocide

How much do you know about the commander-in-chief of Myanmar's armed forces — the man who orchestrated the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya community?

There is no doubt that Aung San Suu Kyi is complicit in the ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

She has been silent. When she hasn't been silent, she has been defensive. When she hasn’t been defensive, she has been guilty.

However, while the de-factor leader of the Southeast Asian nation has — rightfully — been accused of enabling the gross human rights abuses being committed by Myanmar's military in the mainstream media, not a lot of attention has been given to the man directly responsible for commanding the military.

Meet Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar armed forces, aka Tatmadaw.

Sure, 2015 was a historic year for Myanmar when, after more than five decades of military rule, the country was finally returned to civilian governance with the elections that were held in November.

The significance of the polls was further enhanced by the fact that National League Democracy (NLD), the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate who the military junta kept under house arrest for 15 years, won a landslide victory.

But despite peaceful democratic transition being the highlight of that year in Myanmar, the control of the three key ministries, Defense, Border and Home Affairs, remained in the hands of the country's military.

Therefore, while Suu Kyi enjoys widespread popular support and a good amount of control over government, the army is still in control of Myanmar.

This also means it's Sen. General Min Aung Hlaing, not Aung San Suu Kyi, who is calling the shots.

And it is Sen. General Min Aung Hlaing who is responsible for the massacre of the Rohingya minority, which has been denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982 despite being an indigenous population of the Rakhine state.

Min Aung Hlaing was named the commander-in-chief of Myanmar's armed forces in 2011. Not a lot of personal details are available about him but he regularly updates his official Facebook page, which has over 1,337,515 followers.

As per a Reuters story, Min Aung Hlaing studied law at Rangoon University from 1972-1974. One of his former classmates, a retired senior law officer, told the news agency, "He was a man of few words and normally kept a low profile."

Another member of his class stated Min Aung Hlaing succeeded at his third attempt in 1974 to get into Defense Services Academy. Despite that, he was promoted regularly.

Experts have said Min Aung Hlaing's key goal as commander-in-chief of the Tatmadaw has been to improve the image of the military but he still doesn't want to loosen the army's grip on the country.

On multiple occasions, Human Rights Watch noted, Min Aung Hlaing has made clear the military intends to preserve its role in “safeguarding the constitution."

Brazil’s Ambassador to Myanmar, Alcides Prates, told Reuters the commander-in-chief told him at a meeting in the capital, Naypyitaw, last January: “We are not going to let Myanmar become an Arab Spring failure.”

However, apart from claiming to protect the constitution, the general has also vowed to safeguard Buddhism.

Around 90 percent of people in Myanmar today are Buddhist.

This religious sentiment has struck a nerve with Buddhist extremists in the country, who have long propagated the dangerous myth that Islam is a threat to Buddhism in Myanmar — and, therefore, all Rohingya Muslims should be expelled from the country.

And that's exactly what Min Aung Hlaing has been doing.

Although atrocities against the Rohingya minority began in 2012, the situation escalated last August, when alleged Rohingya insurgents attacked 30 police posts, killing 12 police officers.

In response, Myanmar's military launched an indiscriminate crackdown, which turned out to be an ethnic cleansing campaign.

Myanmar's soldiers reportedly committed mass rapes of Rohingya women and girls, as young as six, burned babies alive, tortured and murdered people in Rohingya villages at will.

Min Aung Hlaing is the one person who can stop this — but he isn't doing that.

Astoundingly, despite the abuses being carried out against Rohingya under his orders as well as the global outrage against it, leaders from across the world, including from Germany, Austria, Australia, Japan and India, rolled out the red carpet for him last year.

Aung San Suu Kyi is unquestionably complicit for defending the alleged atrocities against the Rohingya. But Min Aung Hlaing deserves more condemnation. He doesn't deserve "a guard-of-honor welcome" like he received last year in Austria.

Where is the outrage against him?

Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters

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