The Irrawaddy

Gov’t Names Members of Rakhine Investigation Commission

YANGON — The government on Monday announced the formation of a four-member commission to investigate allegations of human rights violations in Rakhine State following attacks on police posts there by the militant Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in late August.

The President’s Office announced that it would form an independent commission of enquiry in May, after months of pressure from international rights groups to allow an impartial investigation of allegations of arson, rape and murder by the Myanmar military in Rakhine following the ARSA attacks.

On Monday, the office announced that the commission had been formed and comprised two local and two international members.

The commission is to be led by Rosario Manalo, a former deputy foreign minister of the Philippines. She is also a former chair and a current representative of the Philippines to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The commission also includes Kenzo Oshima, a former permanent representative to the UN for Japan.

The two local members are U Mya Thein, a former chair of Myanmar’s Constitutional Tribunal, and a former senior official at UNICEF, U Aung Tun Thet, who is now chief coordinator of the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettle and Development in Rakhine, which was formed in October, one month after the ARSA attacks.

A statement from the President’s Office on Monday said the commission was “part of the government’s national initiative to address reconciliation, peace, stability and development in Rakhine.”

A UN Security Council delegation visited Myanmar earlier this year and called for a transparent investigation into accusations of violence against Rohingya Muslims, warning that a failure to do so could lead to military officials being referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

In June, Myanmar’s main opposition and former ruling party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, submitted an urgent proposal to the Lower House of Parliament imploring the government to exclude foreigners from the investigation commission.

The proposal was followed by a meeting of the National Defense and Security Council — which includes the president, state counselor, army chief and other senior officials — in Naypyitaw to discuss the government’s signing of a memorandum of understanding with UN agencies on the return of refugees from Bangladesh, the formation of an investigation commission, the latest Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore, and border security problems, according to the President’s Office.