The Myanmar Military Commander, Min Aung Hlaing, received an honorary award from Thailand amid the Rohingya crisis that blanketed his country. Military forces Min Aung Hlaing has also been accused by the UN for ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine.
Global criticism rains on Myanmar since a military operation was held in Rakhine on 25 August 2017. The military operation was reportedly violent and triggered an exodus of 700,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh.
Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi bore criticism, criticism and global outrage. Even the various awards and honors Suu Kyi received as a political prisoner, were revoked because of the Rohingya crisis.
However, as reported by AFP Friday (16/2/2018), Myanmar Military Commander, General Senior Min Aung Hlaing, who controls the military and oversees the 'cleaning operation' at Rakhine, receives an award from the Kingdom of Thailand.
Royal Gazette newspaper reported that Min Aung Hlaing was nominated for a royal award by Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn on 21 August 2017, just days before a military operation was held in Rakhine, Myanmar.
"For support and services for the Thai military," the Royal Gazette said in its report, referring to the reason for awarding Min Aung Hlaing.
Min Aung Hlaing attach a photo on his official Facebook account, which shows himself smiling after receiving an award from the Royal Thai in Bangkok. The award he received was named 'Knight Grand Cross First Class of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant'.
He also took pictures with the Royal Thai Armed Forces Commander, General Tarnchaiyan Srisuwan. The Royal Thai Armed Forces in a statement said the award was given to 'show close and long-standing relations' between the two countries.
But Fortify Rights human rights activity Matt Smith called Thailand should support calls for justice to be upheld in Myanmar rather than rewarding his top military officer.
"This is the man responsible for the military atrocities committed by the military with full impunity," Smith said. He referred to various violent practices, such as murder and rape, by the Myanmar military against Rohingya as reported by the United Nations.
Thailand defends its decision to reward Min Aung Hlaing. "This is a tradition of giving royal honors to the supreme commander of foreign countries," said a spokesman for the Thai Defense Ministry, Lieutenant General Kongcheep Tantravanich.
(nvc / imk)