International desk – Authorities in Myanmar have said its four-month counterinsurgency sweeps in the Rakhine state has been stopped amid allegations that the soldiers carried out atrocities on the Rohingya Muslims, international media reported on Thursday.
Tens of thousands of minority Muslims crossed the border into Bangladesh as the Burmese military had been accused of rape, torture and other abuses against Rohingya residents.
A statement from State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s office quoted newly appointed national security adviser Thaung Tan as saying the situation was now stable in northern Rakhine.
“The situation in northern Rakhine is now stabilized. The clearance operations by the military have ceased, the curfew has been eased and there remains only a police presence to maintain the peace,” Tan was quoted as saying.
The army’s operation began in early October after nine police officers at three outposts in Rakhine state were killed by insurgents.
Human rights groups charged that the army crackdown included burning down more than 1,000 homes and killing an unknown number of civilians.
More than 70,000 villagers fled across the border to Bangladesh, and another 20,000 are internally displaced, according to an estimate. Burmese government, however, denied the allegation of abuses.
“Halting the military operation doesn’t really mean we won’t have our security forces there,” Zaw Htay, spokesman for the office of President Htin Kyaw said separately.
“Of course we still need the presence of the police because for reasons of security in the region.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement on Tuesday saying he “was horrified” at a recent report on alleged sexual abuses by security forces in Myanmar against the Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority.
Human Rights Watch has alleged that soldiers and Border Guard Police took part in rape, gang rape, invasive body searches and sexual assaults while conducting counterinsurgency operations in Rakhine from October through mid-December.