Govt-backed Inquiry into Arakan Violence Underway

Members of a government-backed commission into recent violence in Arakan State hold a meeting on Aug. 19. (Photo: Hla Maung Shwe)

A committee formed by Burma’s government last month to probe the causes of communal clashes between Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims is about half-way through a visit to Arakan State, where it is gathering information about the deadly outbreak of violence that began in early June.

The eight-day visit, which began on Sept. 7, has so far included meetings with leaders of both communities, as well as refugees displaced by riots that killed dozens of people and left tens of thousands homeless.

The commission traveled to the predominantly Rohingya townships of Maungdaw and Buthidaung on Tuesday for talks with Muslim religious leaders and Buddhists monks, according to Maung Wuntha, a well-known Burmese writer and one of the commission’s 27 members.

“We are not here to dig up the past. We are mainly focusing on finding out how people feel and listening to what they want. We are trying to find some way to restore their sense of security. We also want to come up with recommendations that we can make to the government,” he told The Irrawaddy.

To ensure that interviewees speak freely, the commission has guaranteed their privacy, not even permitting officials to sit in on the interviews, he added.

Both sides have spoken very openly, he said, and some have even provided letter and photos.

The visit is the commission’s first to Arakan State since it was formed in the second week of August by President Thein Sein. After it completes its trip on Sept. 15, a research team will come to the state to collect more information.

In addition to Maungdaw and Buthidaung, the commission has so far also visited Kyauktaw and Mrauk-U townships, and plans to speak to affected people in Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, Ramree, Kyauknimaw and Taunggok townships.

The commission, led by the former director of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Dr Myo Myint, will have to report directly to Thein Sein within three months. However, this deadline could be extended if necessary, said commission member Aye Thar Aung, who is also the secretary of the Arakan League for Democracy.

Also on the commission are religious leaders representing Burma’s Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu communities, as well as leading pro-democracy activists such as 88 Generation leader Ko Ko Gyi and comedian Zarganar.

The president formed the commission after international right groups and foreign governments, especially in the Muslim world, harshly criticized the government for its handling of the violence, accusing security forces of targeting Rohingyas.

A US delegation led by Ambassador Derek Mitchell concluded a two-day fact-finding mission to the strife-torn state on Monday. In a statement, the US embassy in Rangoon said, “Broad swathes of both communities have been affected, and the humanitarian situation remains of great concern.”

The statement stressed the need for a long-term solution to ethnic strife in the area, listing as key challenges security and stability, freedom of movement, protection for local residents and humanitarian access.


9 Responses to Govt-backed Inquiry into Arakan Violence Underway

  1. They are trying to get information about the conflict in wrong places from wrong people. The answer will be near President Thien Sein. Major Zaw Hmu may have lot of information. He found lot of Al-Qeeda crossing from Bangladesh. Based on that news, Minister of Defence was dispatched. Shoot to kill order was given. Why?

  2. The Burmese Freedom Fighter

    The diversity within the fact finding committee is a reflection on sincerity of Burmese Government in finding viable solution to communal riots erupted by three illegal Bengali rapists, affecting the lives of tens of thousands of innocent Rakhine people and Bengali aliens. Current stability within the rival community has to be maintained tightly while the transparency in digging more facts and evidences is a key in proving that Burma’s trying its best in finding pragmatic solution, so that slanderous accusation from the Muslim Brotherhood will fade away in time.

    Even though Burma can’t be compared with the civilized nations, it never left behind in South-East Asia when it comes to taking care of illegal Bengali immigrants, if not, it gives the best treatment that Bengali immigrants can ever have in the whole world. The best pragmatic solution to this crisis is to have a designated safe area for illegal Bengali immigrants, common practices of sensible countries rather than forcibly send them into the open seas, an evil practice as seen in the news in Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

    All the illegal Bengali aliens have to be naturalized to integrate into normal society, the best practice that all the civilized notations have been doing and Burma doesn’t need to reinvent new wheels, but to follow.

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter

  3. People of Burma have been framed by Muslims in front of the world through false coordinated publishing complete with fake pictures to prove their claims. They left out the crucial detail that it was the Rohingyas who launched the riot on June 8 after their Friday prayers to avenge the death of 10 rapists ( June 3). Also in Arakan state where problems arose , the Rohingyas made up 98 percent. They have been terrorizing the non Muslims living there repeatedly even before their riot on June 8, violating the Human Rights of the disingenuous . People of the country, you have been wrongly accused in the past months. It is now time that you speak up for yourself.

    If Rohingyas Muslims are allowed to terrorized , commit mass robberies, and rape while getting a way with it, their fellow Muslims else where will feel encouraged and safe to continue in their ways and terrorize people elsewhere in the world.

    We need to Join Canada and the rest of the world to address global terrorism . If terrorists reign , then the world can forget about democracy . Sharia is the opposite of democracy. Your new found democracy would once again be lost. Just look at what happened to freedom and lifestyle of people in Sweden after being victim of silent infiltration by jihadists. Just see how Sharia law is creeping into Britian , slowly replacing the law of the host country. Please don’t keep a blind eye to global terrorism.

  4. The ministry of Religious Affairs needs to be abolished. Because the Minister(s)and high ranking officers are always Buddhists. There is no way they may treat other religions the way they treat Buddhism in Myanmar. Therefore, there will not be freedom of religion for Muslims, Christians, Hindus and so on. Keeping this ministry is interfering freedom of religion. Separation of Religion and Government(Separation of Religion and State) is essential in Democratic Society. Ministry of Religious Affairs needs to be abolished now. Let the religious leaders run religions without the government’s help, and let the people choose their faith.

  5. Are they predominantly Rohingya townships? Why can you say like that? Is it a use of the investigation committee? Is it true? If so, you should give explanation about it. If not, it’ll make Rakhine angry.

  6. “TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN”
    TEN MUSLIM NOT ROHINGA FROM MAUNG MYA TRAVELING IN ARAKAN BY BUS, LYNCHED AND KILLED BY 300 PEOPLE.
    WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO ABOUT FINDING THE PEOPLE THAT LYNCHED AND KILLED TRAVELING MUSLIMS FROM MYAUNG MYA?
    THEIN SEIN COULD GET HELP FROM NEUTRAL COUNTRIES OR AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, FBI etc:
    WHAT SAY YOU WORLD JURY?

  7. best is to deport back bangalis to bangladesh and pakistan or india..where they belong…if can’t send them to camps and stop their breeding…

  8. Infact, we are in harmony before. We believe that foreign bodies backed to erupt the violence coporeated by bad willing ill legal mmigrants. Therefore, it is necessary to find out who are involved to start ation process the ball rather than going back to history. The problem happens when the democritization process starts. They might have well planned plot. It is necessary to find out who are unhappy and let them go because we did not ask them to come to our state. They don’t need come and shape us with waht they need . They are just invadeers and behave as terrorists backed by muslim world.

    U Thein Sein gov: must be very firm them migrants not to affect the local residents and local ethnic who own the land and culture.

    If you don’t solve this well planned plot by socalled Rohongers, you will lost your land and culture one day. Currently, Arakanese have to bear the brunt of their plot. 95% of these migrants ,legal or illlegal, are never loyal to their host country . They are just opportunists which U Thein Sein gov: must know well.

  9. This government is trying its best to dig out the true incidences, and it should be appreciated by all, except those extremists who have illegitimate connections with islamic militants. The present government is trying to bring out the facts, without any siding with any of the parties involved. And this is a fact that reflects the sincerity of the government. Meanwhile other organizations like OIC are also doing their part. the one-sided reporting in support of the rohingya perpetrators are just the part of mispropaganda and the world must try to understand this. AlJazeera as true supporters of islamic militancy projected the rohingyas with their fabricated reporting and information fed by rohingya separatists who on websites have doctored reports and campaigns. This should be made clear that even the rakhine citizens who have participated in the killings were not spared. This is clear now than ever. The peace building process, though a long one, should also be initiated as early as possible. Without that the western part of Burma will suffer from instability and a state of terror.

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