The Irrawaddy

International Experts Named to Rakhine Advisory Body

Rohingya refugees make their way through Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh December 10, 2017.

YANGON — An ex-Thai deputy premier and a South African anti-apartheid negotiator are among the international experts appointed to a new 10-member advisory body charged with implementing recommendations by the Kofi Annan-led commission for conflict-torn Rakhine State.

Of the 10 members appointed by President U Htin Kyaw on Friday, five are foreigners. They include Surakiart Sathirathai, chairman of the Asia Peace and Reconciliation Council and a former deputy prime minister of Thailand, and Roelof Petrus Meyer, a former South African minister of defense who took part in negotiations to end apartheid in his country. The others include former New Mexico Governor and one-time US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, and Urban Ahlin, a member of Sweden’s Parliament.

Local members include the chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, a former UN assistant secretary-general, a member of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, and a Lower House lawmaker.

The Annan commission submitted its final report with recommendations in August. The president formed the implementation committee in September, noting that an advisory commission with international experts would also be formed to ensure that the recommendations are implemented effectively.

But the newly formed advisory commission was criticized for the lack of any Rakhine representatives.

U Maung Maung Soe, a Yangon-based political observer, said he was surprised to learn that no one who had received the mandate from Arakanese people had been appointed to represent their views.

“I wonder if the government invited any of them to join. If you want to tackle the Rakhine issue, you can’t simply exclude the local people’s voice,” he said.