Myanmar Think Tank Boss Wins Justice Award for Boosting Trust, Reconciliation in Rakhine

By The Irrawaddy 17 August 2020

YANGON—The director of a Myanmar-based NGO promoting tolerance, social harmony and peaceful coexistence has been granted this year’s MC Bassiouni Justice Award for his efforts towards domestic fact-finding and accountability at the courts in Myanmar for alleged human rights violations in northern Rakhine State in 2017 and other achievements.

The Forum for International Criminal and Humanitarian Law (FICHL), under the Brussels-based Center for International Law Research and Policy, announced last week that Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing of the Center for Diversity and National Harmony (CDNH) had been granted the award.

The award recognizes outstanding service to the adjudication, prosecution, investigation, documentation, defense, analysis, diplomacy or study of core international crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh from northern Rakhine State when the government’s security forces launched clearance operations after attacks against police outposts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. Those who fled claimed they suffered rape, extrajudicial killings and arson by the security forces, attracting an international outcry.

Following international criticism, Myanmar formed a commission of inquiry to investigate the violations. The commission submitted its finding in January, ruling out “genocidal intent” but not denying that war crimes, serious human rights violations and violations of domestic law took place during the security clearance operations.

Founded in 2015, the CDNH is a Yangon-based think tank that says it fosters an inclusive society through civic education, stops communal violence through the collection and analysis of information and brings fractured communities together through capacity building and dialogue.

In its announcement, the FICHL said the award acknowledges Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing’s efforts to increase trust, reconciliation and unity among members of different religious communities in Rakhine State. It said his leadership of the think tank produces in-depth studies of living conditions among minority communities such as those in Shan State.

A former assistant professor at the National University of Singapore and the City University of Hong Kong, Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing used to be a senior member of the Myanmar Peace Center, a government-backed body working to establish peace with ethnic rebel groups. He was an advisor to the former president, U Thein Sein, under the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

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