8/8/22, 9:18 PM New evidence shows how Myanmar's military planned the Rohingya purge By POPPY MCPHERSON and WA LONE Filed: 4 August, 2022, 11 a.m. GMT I n mid-2017, in a remote area of Myanmar, senior Burmese military commanders held secret talks about operations against the minority Rohingya Muslim population. They discussed ways to insert spies into Rohingya villages, resolved to demolish Muslim homes and mosques, and laid plans for what they clinically referred to as “area clearance.” The discussions are captured in official records seen by Reuters. At one meeting, commanders repeatedly used a racial slur for the Rohingya suggesting they are foreign interlopers: The “Bengalis,” one said, had become “too daring.” In another meeting, an officer said the Rohingya had grown too numerous. The commanders agreed to carefully coordinate communications so the army could move “instantly during the crucial time.” It was critical, they said, that operations be “unnoticeable” to protect the military’s image in the international community. Weeks later, the Myanmar military began a brutal crackdown that sent more than 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh. Ever since, the military has insisted the operation was a legitimate counter-terrorism campaign sparked by attacks by Muslim militants, not a planned program of ethnic cleansing. The country’s civilian leader at the time, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, dismissed much of the criticism of the military, saying refugees may have exaggerated abuses and condemnations of the security forces were based on “unsubstantiated narratives.”  Min Aung Hlaing, who now heads the military junta in Myanmar, greets Aung San Suu Kyi ahead of a meeting in Naypyitaw in 2015. Since the coup in early 2021, Suu Kyi has been detained by the military. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun But official records from the period ahead of and during the expulsion of the Rohingya, like the ones in 2017, paint a different picture. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/myanmar-rohingya-warcrimes-investigation/ 9/34

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