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  • A parade to mark the 70th anniversary of Armed Forces Day in Myanmar's capital, Naypyidaw.

    A parade to mark the 70th anniversary of Armed Forces Day in Myanmar's capital, Naypyidaw. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 December 2017

The United Nations has described Myanmar's campaign against the stateless Rohingya as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

Myanmar's armed forces, despite being accused of ethnic cleansing in their ongoing campaign of violence against Muslim Rohingyas in Rakhine state, have been invited to observe military drills conducted by Thailand and the United States next year.

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Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thailand has invited Myanmar to act as an observer in the annual "Cobra Gold" exercise, which will involve thousands of military personnel, according to Reuters.

Asked why Myanmar was being included in light of violent crackdowns against the Rohingya, a senior official at the Directorate of Joint Intelligence of the Royal Thai Armed Forces said: "That is politics. We are soldiers. This is a military exercise."

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he also said the Thai armed forces "focus on training, on education, on military cooperation. That is our wish: to have Myanmar involved." 

Several requests for comment were declined by the Myanmar military, sparking no small amount of international concern.

"To invite them after what the U.S. government has labeled ethnic cleansing... just seems wrong, and that is putting it too mildly," said Professor Zachary Abuza, who focuses on Southeast Asia and human rights at the U.S. National War College and described the move as "outrageous."

The United Nations has described Myanmar's campaign against the stateless Rohingya as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing." Secretary General Antonio Guterres has appealed to Myanmar authorities to end the violence.

Human rights activists and the Rohingya community have accused the Myanmar Army of trying to force them out of the country with a campaign of arson and targeted killings.

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