UN Urges State Counselor to Visit Maungdaw

By Rik Glauert 9 December 2016

RANGOON — The UN appealed to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to protect all of Burma’s residents regardless of their ethnicity, religion, gender or status and to visit troubled townships in northern Arakan State to reassure civilians in a statement released Thursday.

Special advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Burma Vijay Nambiar said the State Counselor should listen to her “inner voice” and ask the people of Burma “to rise above their ethnic, religious and other differences and to advance human dignity, harmony and mutual cooperation between all communities.”

“I also appeal to Daw Suu to visit Maungdaw and Buthidaung [townships] and reassure the civilian population there that they will be protected,” he said.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has denied allegations by international organizations of rape, extrajudicial killings and arson against the Muslim Rohingya minority by the Burma Army during security operations in northern Arakan.

The government’s “generally defensive rather than proactive approach to providing security to the local population has caused frustration locally and disappointment internationally,” said Vijay Nambiar.

In a Dec. 2 interview with Channel News Asia the State Counselor said, “I would appreciate so much if the international community would help us to maintain peace and stability and to make progress in building better relations between the two communities instead of always drumming up calls for bigger fires of resentment.”

Vijay Nambiar also echoed comments made by former UN secretary-general and head of the Arakan State Advisory Commission Kofi Annan last week in asking Burma to operate within the rule of law and calling for unimpeded humanitarian and media access.

He acknowledged questions of the “composition and mandate” of the 13-member state-level investigation commission recently set up by President U Htin Kyaw to investigate the Oct. 9 attacks and following clashes with security forces.

The advisor said that he hoped the commission would “conduct its work in a credible and independent manner” to build confidence among the local population and to reassure the wider international community.

The statement also expressed disappointment at conflict between Burma Army and ethnic armed groups in Shan and Kachin states and the risk it poses to the country’s fragile peace process.

Vijay Nambiar urged Burma’s government and military to “show humility and respect for the minority groups” and for all parties to get back to the negotiating table and said that the UN was ready to help support this process.