Burma Government Asks UN for More Evidence on Human Rights Claims

By Htet Naing Zaw 7 February 2017

NAYPYIDAW — Burma’s government said on Monday that it has requested more information from the United Nations so that it can investigate alleged human rights abuses by the Burma Army in Arakan State.

“If there is solid evidence to prove these allegations of human rights violations, if they can be investigated, then we will take action in accordance with our procedures,” U Zaw Htay, deputy director general of the President’s Office, told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

In response to a recently published UN human rights report, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi directly asked the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide more information on the allegations, he added.

The UN said the report released on Friday was based on interviews conducted Jan. 12-21 with more than 200 Rohingya people who fled to Bangladesh since an outbreak of violence began in Arakan State in October. The report said the agency’s team conducted in-depth interviews with 204 victims and witnesses, including 101 women, 77 men, and 26 children.

The UN reported that more than half of the women interviewed said they had been the victim of rape or sexual violence. Other interviewees reported witnessing killings by government security forces during the October-December period while the Burma Army conducted counterinsurgency operations in western Arakan State.

U Kyaw Zeya, the foreign affairs ministry director general, told The Irrawaddy that the Burmese government would respond to the UN report. He pointed out that information in the UN human rights report was different from what the government has been examining.

“We have a separate mechanism led by Kofi Annan,” he said. “Based on the suggestions [of the Kofi Annan-led commission], we will precisely respond to the UN report.”

U Kyaw Zeya said that Burma and Bangladesh officials have discussed the issue of Rohingya people fleeing Arakan State. He said that, after some scrutiny, Burma would accept the return of those refugees who could provide “solid evidence” that they fled after the October violence.

Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected from an earlier version that mistakenly stated that the Kofi Annan-led commission is investigating the Arakan issue. The commission is an advisory body; it is not conducting an investigation.