09/18/2019, 14.29
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Myanmar commander-in-chief visits, donates to non-Buddhists

Yesterday, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his entourage visited Muslims and Hindus from Yangon. According to analysts, the Army is trying to clean up its image after the Rohingya crisis. In 2020, Myanmar citizens will take part in the second elections since the end of the dictatorship.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (pictured), commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw), recently visit non-Buddhist organisations and places of worship and made donations.

According to some observers, the move represents an attempt to promote unity among the country’s different communities; for others, it is dictated by political opportunism, ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections.

Recently, the close relations between military leaders and ultra-nationalist movements had raised controversy. These groups accuse the civilian government of not protecting the traditions and culture of Buddhism, a task they believe is done by the military alone.

Yesterday morning, the General led a group of senior officers and their families to donate money and necessities to an Islamic hospital in the municipality of Kyauktada (Yangon). The delegation then visited the Sri Sri Durga Bari Hindu temple.

Aung Thwin, vice chairman of the Hindu Central Council, said that the military left offerings for 7.7 million kyats (US$ 5,000) for the community’s orphanages and clinics. The General and officers also went to the Zafar Shah Mosque.

This was the third in a series of visits to non-Buddhist holy places by the Commander-in-chief.  Last week, he donated money and provisions to Christian and Muslim groups in Mandalay, as well as Buddhist monks from the monasteries of Bhamo and Ma Soe Yein.

As a gesture to foster political, social and religious cohesion, the general gave 9.5 million kyats (US,200) and 140 bags of rice, oil, peas and salt.

Last August, the Senior General and his entourage visited and made donations to Christians and Muslims of Pyinmana, a municipality in the capital Naypyidaw.

Since August 2017, the army has come under heavy criticism from the international community for violating the human rights of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine State.

Several countries want to see Senior General Min Aung Hlaing tried by the International Criminal Court.  The United States has issued sanctions against him, several military leaders and their families.

According to political analysts, Myanmar’s military leaders are trying to clean up their image in the eyes of the world and the country, which next year will be called to the second general elections since the end of the dictatorship.

The first elections, held in 2015, resulted the victory of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She and her party are trying to change Myanmar’s controversial constitution, which grants extensive powers and entire sectors of the state apparatus to the military.

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