Myanmar’s Army chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing said the United Nations did not have any right to interfere in the country’s sovereignty, AFP reported on Monday.

His comments came after an independent fact-finding mission of the United Nations said last week that Myanmar’s Army should be removed from politics as it released the final part of a report reiterating calls for top generals to be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority. The country’s military occupies about a quarter of Parliament seats and has control of three ministries.

No country, organisation or group has the “right to interfere in and make decision over sovereignty of a country”, military-run newspaper Myawady quoted Aung Hlaing as telling Myanmar soldiers on Sunday. “Talks to meddle in internal affairs [cause] misunderstanding.”

He also added that the military will not extract itself from the country’s politics. “Take a look at the democracy practices in the world, the countries exercise the democracy system suited to them,” he said. “The Tatmadaw [military] will continue its efforts to achieve eternal peace.”

In August 2017, the Myanmar Army started a crackdown in Rakhine state in response to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on police posts and a military base. The Army’s actions were referred to as “ethnic cleansing” by the UN and the United States. More than 7 lakh Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after the crackdown. Myanmar has consistently refuted the claims, saying the international community was making false allegations.

The International Criminal Court earlier this month announced that it has launched a preliminary examination into the deportations of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to Bangladesh. The court said it can exercise its jurisdiction over allegations of Rohingya deportations from Myanmar to Bangladesh as a possible crime against humanity. Although Myanmar is not a part of the court, Bangladesh is, and this gives the court the right to adjudicate since the crimes were committed in Bangladeshi territory.

The UN report

The 440-page report called for the military’s top leadership to be replaced and for the institution to have no influence over the country’s governance.

“During their operations the Tatmadaw [military] has systematically targeted civilians, including women and children, committed sexual violence, voiced and promoted exclusionary and discriminatory rhetoric against minorities, and established a climate of impunity for its soldiers,” said Marzuki Darusman, chair of the fact-finding mission.

The report said that the country’s civilian leadership “should further pursue the removal of the Tatmadaw from Myanmar’s political life”.

The report was based on 18 months of work and more than 875 in-depth interviews. The report also called on the international community to investigate Myanmar military’s top brass for genocide, including commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.

The military’s tactics had been “consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats”, investigators had said.