Commission Revisits Arakan State Amid Allegations of Abuse

By Moe Myint 28 November 2016

RANGOON – Chair of the Arakan State Advisory Commission Kofi Annan will visit conflict-torn Maungdaw Township in northern Arakan State on Friday, according to the secretary of the Arakan State government U Tin Maung Swe.

Amid international pressure on the new government, it will be the first time the former UN secretary-general has visited Arakan State since attacks on border guard posts on Oct. 9 and security operations that followed plunged the area into violence that has killed at least 86 people and displaced thousands.

Seven members of the commission canceled a visit to Maungdaw Township last month over security concerns after improvised landmines were found in the area.

According to U Tin Maung Swe, Kofi Annan will lead a delegation to spend two days in Maungdaw, though more details of the trip and whether they will meet with villagers has not been released.

Northern Maungdaw remains under military lockdown and access is barred to international organizations and journalists.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi formed the Arakan State Advisory Commission to investigate the root causes of conflict in Arakan State and to develop a reconciliation process between Buddhist and Muslim communities in the area.

Friday’s visit will mark the second visit by the former UN secretary-general. In early September, he led the commission to state capital Sittwe to explain his duties and responsibilities to locals and conduct meetings with Buddhist and Muslim communities.

Commission members at the time described the visit as a “productive trip.”

Commission member and founder of the interfaith group Religion for Peace Al Haj U Aye Lwin confirmed that Kofi Annan would arrive before the end of this month and spend five or six days visiting Naypyidaw, Rangoon and Arakan State.

Al Haj U Aye Lwin said that it had not yet been confirmed which villages would be visited in Maungdaw but that “appropriate” places would be selected.

He described the conditions that disrupted the trip to northern Maungdaw earlier this month as “unusual.”