The Irrawaddy

Government to Help Rohingya Seek Justice for Rights Abuses

NAYPYITAW — Myanmar’s government will help Muslim refugees who have fled to Bangladesh from northern Rakhine State file grievances in cases of alleged human rights abuses, according to the Union minister for social welfare, relief and resettlement.

Dr. Win Myat Aye announced the policy during an assessment of his ministry’s record over the past year at a press conference in Naypyitaw on Thursday.

Establishing such a process has become a priority for the government as it faces serious allegations of human rights abuses from the international community. While only some individuals are responsible for the human rights abuses, the organizations they belong to have had to shoulder all the blame, the minister said.

“There are various allegations. There are allegations against organizations, for example the Tatmadaw [Myanmar’s military], rather than the individuals who actually committed the crimes. This mars the image of the organizations. The individual perpetrators should face punishment, not their organizations,” he said.

Those wishing to file grievances can do so from their current locations but will have to attend a trial in Myanmar. The state will bear the costs of bringing the witnesses to the court, according to the minister.

“We have announced that those who fled to Bangladesh now have the right to file complaints. And the Myanmar government will assist them in doing so,” Dr. Win Myat Aye said.

The move aims to address the widespread allegations in a transparent manner, he added.

During visits to Maungdaw in Rakhine State, The Irrawaddy received reports of rapes and other human rights violations by security forces. Their allegations were found not to be true when checked by forensic pathologists, however.

The government initiated the grievance process after the international community, including the United Nations, put pressure on Myanmar to make sure the Tatmadaw acts in a responsible manner and shows accountability in its handling of the Rakhine issue.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.