Locals Protest Kofi Annan’s Maungdaw Visit

By Moe Myint 5 December 2016

Residents of four Arakan State townships protested the arrival of the Kofi Annan-led Arakan State Advisory Commission over the weekend, according to state government spokesperson U Ming Aung.

About 300 Arakanese Buddhists demonstrated in downtown Maungdaw, according to the district administrative office. Protesters disputed the commission’s international members and accused interference in Burma’s internal affairs.

One banner read “respect the decision of the Arakan State Parliament,” referring to the regional Arakan National Party-led parliament’s refusal to cooperate with the commission.

Kofi Annan and his colleagues faced similar protests in Buthidaung, Minbyar, and Mrauk-U townships, U Ming Aung said.

In their first trip to a region that has been under military lockdown since attacks on border guard posts on Oct. 9, the delegation toured four villages in northern Maungdaw and spoke with Muslim villagers about the situation on the ground.

The Burma Army has been accused of widespread human rights abuses during security operations including extrajudicial killings, rape, and setting fire to Muslim villages—accusations which the National League for Democracy-led government has rejected.

The commission conducted meetings with Buddhist Arakanese and Muslim Rohingya communities in Arakan State and discussed the contentious issue of National Verification Cards with members of the stateless Rohingya Muslim population.

The commission completed its Arakan State tour on Sunday afternoon and will hold a press conference in Rangoon on Tuesday. They will deliver their initial report to the Union government in February.