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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

A look inside the mind of Myanmar's military chief 

Ming Aung Hlaing is accused of ordering the mass-murder of the Rohingya 

While Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar, has carried the burden of blame over the brutal crackdown on the Rohingya, the military is believed to operate outside of the government's control and to be the sole perpetrator of a litany of human rights abuses.

As commander-in-chief of the military, known locally as the Tatmadaw, it is Senior General Ming Aung Hlaing, 61, who has called the shots in a vicious crackdown against minorities.

“As the mass killing took place last year, Min Aung Hlaing is the most responsible and of course Aung San Suu Kyi is complicit in the ongoing genocide against Rohingyas. She should be tried at ICC,” Ro Nay San Lwin, Coordinator of Free Rohingya Coalition, told The National.

“He said it was unfinished business from World War II. He repeatedly said we are illegal immigrants, Bengalis from Bangladesh. Even though we have primary source evidence that we belong to Arakan [today Rakhine State], he is not going to accept the truth. He is the most responsible person for killing thousands of Rohingya in shooting, burning alive, slaughtering and raping thousands of Rohingya women and girls,” Mr San Lwin said.

Reuters reported that Gen Hlaing was an “unremarkable cadet" who was admitted to the elite Defence Services Academy on his third attempt. Despite this, he was regularly promoted and spent much of his time commanding units on Myanmar’s eastern borders. He is accused of consolidating military rule and rejecting democracy.

After a UN investigation recommended a genocide prosecution for Gen Hlaing and other military commanders, Facebook shut his and other down military-linked pages. This is a damaging blow for the general, who conducts much of his public outreach through his 1.3 million followers.

The commander-in-chief's page was sometimes updated several times a day. Some of the military's Facebook posts from last year included detailed accounts of clashes with Rohingya militants, often accompanied by pictures.

A Facebook spokeswoman told Reuters that the social media site took the step, "since international experts, including a UN-commissioned report, have found evidence that many of these officials committed serious human rights abuses in the country."

Facebook said it removed "a total of 18 Facebook accounts, one Instagram account and 52 Facebook pages, followed by almost 12 million people".

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