The record of the press meet held by the Tatmadaw True News Information Team on the internal peace process, endeavours of the Tatmadaw and AA insurgent group
The press meet on the internal peace process, endeavours of the Tatmadaw and AA insurgent group was held at Defence Services Museum (Nay Pyi Taw) from 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm on 23 July 2019. Fifteen members of the Tatmadaw True News Information Team and 44 reporters of 22 news agencies were present.
Q: Reporter U Maung Paing from Democracy Today news agency asked any cooperation between government and Tatmadaw leaders regarding the Rakhine issue. I read on Facebook this morning. The news hinted the successor of the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services when he retires. Does the Commander-in-Chief has a plan to retire within this year?
A: Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said in any military operation in Rakhine State or elsewhere, the Tatmadaw submits what it should be presented regarding state defence duties and security duties to the government office and the President Office. It is the forever duty of a government or a Tatmadaw. We don’t need to mention more because we have cooperation and coordination.
A: Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said Tatmadaw posts and rankings are arranged in line with the military appointment rules and regulations.
Q: Reporter U Htet Naing Zaw from the Irrawaddy news agency said there were villagers whom the Tatmadaw arrested by accusing them of being AA members. Some died during interrogation. Do generals know about them? Are these usual cases? Was there any torture during the investigation period? I want to know what instructions are given to those to avoid such case.
A: In his reply to the query, Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said I previously replied the similar question regarding torture made during the investigation period. Every citizen has rights to defense and rights to protect themselves according to the law. Also, the aggrieved person has rights to make complaints about their cases. The vice-chairman of the Tatmadaw True News Information Team has already clarified it. A region-level Court of Inquiry has already been established and it was officially announced to the media. The Court of Inquiry has two major tasks. Firstly, it completely collects evidences and never shows only one side of the situation, which means the Court of Inquiry gets evidences not only from the Tatmadawmen but also from those involved in the events and residents in the areas. Based on their testimonies, more evidences are collected from the others indirectly involved in the cases if it is necessary. We decide whether Court-Martial should be convened or not and who will be the responsible one in the event following the inspection. A word of advice on matters relating to Kyauktan Village, Myanmar Human Rights Commission has officially issued a report, which included complete information about the event in the village. The findings of the report cover root causes of the event and balanced reviews. It gives advices for both parties, including the Tatmadawmen and the village and the residents. I think the report will help you clearly understand the event in Kyauktan Village.
A: In his brief clarification on the matters relating to a documentary being filmed by the RFA news agency, Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun briefly explained that the Tatmadaw is undertaking its responsibilities for those EA1 and EA2 military personnel who have no required medical standards because they were disabled in the battle front. The EA1 (Enemy Action) refers to those who lost their parts of body due to the enemy’s attack. The Tatmadaw promotes ranks of those EA1 military personnel, carrying out negotiations with the resettlement body to employ them in the suitable ministries, Myanmar Economic Corporation and the military-run factories and workshops. In addition, they are given 16 different livelihood trainings at the two vocational training schools of the Tatmadaw, comprising sewing, mobile phone repair, motorcycle workshop, agricultural trainings and others. The Tatmadaw also grants them to employ at two recruitment units.Later, housings have been built for veterans. The Tatmadaw supports wheelchairs and e-bikes for EA1 disabled military personnel, providing Ks-300,000 each to EA1 military personnel and Ks-200,000 to EA2 military personnel. Moreover, the Tatmadaw provides them with disability pensions, welfares, compassionate allowances and allowances for food according to their fundamental rights. As of June, 2019, the Tatmadaw contributed Ks-668 million worth of shares at the MEC for the disabled military personnel. It will continue to make shares contributions for them in the future. The Tatmadaw is conducting not only the development of housings for the veterans but also some implementations for their economy, such as livestock breeding, farming and garments. Also, the Tatmadaw continues to provide scholarships and stipends. These are the Tatmadaw’s performances for military personnel.
Q: Reporter U Htet Naing Zaw from the Irrawaddy news agency said the death toll of civilians in the fights between the Tatmadaw and AA is increasing and both parties have responsibilities to reduce the death rate of those civilians. Could generals please tell me your plan to decrease the death toll of civilians in the future?
A: In his reply to the query regarding the death of civilians and torture during the investigation period, Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said this is a frequently asked question and we repeatedly answered about it. The official announcement will be made if a person dies a painful death by torture.The Tatmadaw only opens the case file and does not make post mortem examination at the military hospital. Nobody conceals the results of post mortem examination because this is a strong evidence under the Evidence Act. These could not be secretive and we have dealt with them. It is already included in ROE (Rules of Engagement). ROE has prescribed how we must handle detainees. ROE has been distributed to soldiers of all ranks. Officers from the Judge Advocate General Office and Legal Departments of military and regional commands visit every unit annually to disseminate of knowledge about ROE and Geneva Convention. We have already made arrangements to respect and follow them. It is true we must try to reduce civilian deaths. Both sides are responsible for this. Tatmadaw has repeatedly issued news about that. We are trying to make sure that clashes do not happen near villages or homes. Tatmadaw has issued details. This is already included in ROE. ROE has directed to distinguish between military targets and civilian targets. We are following those instructions.
Q: Reporter U Htet Naing Zaw from the Irrawaddy news agency said the Ministry of Defence clarified military spending in the Hluttaw session held yesterday.But, some criticized it. There is no chance to scrutinize military spending. There are criticisms. Why isn’t there scrutiny? For example,some representatives said when they asked about strengths of the Tatmadaw and number of troops,salary and allowance some Tatmadaw representatives responded that they were not allowed to disclose those facts. So, he said he would like to know when it can be clarified.
A: Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun replied that I would like to explain two points. The first one was that no armed forces across the world release strength of organizational set up. If the data of the most openly armed forces across the world are searched, it is found that no armed forces release it. It needs to keep secret on State defence affairs.The Tatmadaw has no reason to ask more-than-enough budget for salary and rations. The Tatmadaw demands its needs only. Agricultural and livestock breeding farms are being undertaken not to cause defence budget problems of the State. The agricultural and livestock breeding tasks being undertaken by Tatmadaw members aim to reduce spending of the State budget. The second one was related to increasing the demand of defence budget. So,all can know answers through the adjustment between the price of rice bag last year and this year, price of edible oil per viss last year and this year and value of US dollar last year and this year.