The Irrawaddy

Rakhine State Lawmaker Demands Details on Rehabilitation Plans for 3 Townships

SITTWE—A Rakhine State lawmaker submitted a proposal to the state’s Parliament on Wednesday urging the Union government to show greater transparency regarding plans to rehabilitate Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships.

“The [state] government has told us nothing [about the rehabilitation plans]. It does not care a fig for the Parliament. So, we must ensure it respects the Parliament. We are in a new era. We have heard that rehabilitation work has begun in Maungdaw. But we, the Rakhine State Parliament, know nothing more than that,” said U Maung Ohn of Maungdaw Constituency (1) regarding the purpose of his proposal.

As the rehabilitation process will take time and require substantial funding, the Rakhine State government should explain the process to the Parliament in a transparent manner, he added.

U Kyaw Win of MraukU Constituency (2) seconded the proposal, which met no objections. The state Parliament approved the proposal for discussion on Friday.

“The Rakhine State government must explain the rehabilitation plan for Maungdaw to us with accountability and responsibility,” said lawmaker U Kyaw Win.

He urged the government not to make hollow promises, citing the example of an airport project in Rakhine State’s MraukU, the former capital of the ancient Arakanese Kingdom of the same name. The plan was initiated by U Thein Sein’s government but dropped by the current National League for Democracy-led government.

U Than Tun, secretary of the Ancillary Committee for the Reconstruction of Rakhine National Territory in the Western Frontier, a civil society organization, said none of the government’s actions so far has been satisfactory regarding the protection of ethnic [Arakanese, Mro, Dainget] people in northern Rakhine State.

“In my opinion, the government is only concerned with the repatriation of Bengalis who have fled,” he said, referring to the Rohingya people.

“It has largely ignored ethnic Arakanese people and failed to ensure their emotional security and safe rehabilitation, or the harvest of their rice fields,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Both ethnic Arakanese people, and Rohingya (referred to as “Bengalis” by most people in Myanmar), were forced to abandon their rice fields when they fled militant attacks on Aug. 25 and subsequent counter-insurgency operations by the Myanmar military.

During a visit to a Hindu refugee camp in Sittwe on Nov. 11, Rakhine chief minister U Nyi Pu said houses are being rebuilt in Maungdaw as part of the rehabilitation process.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has established the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine (UEHRD) to spearhead the rehabilitation process.