SITTWE, Rakhine State —A United Nations Security Council (UNSC) delegation visited Rohingya villages on Tuesday in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw, where hundreds of thousands of the ethnic minority have fled military-led violence, after months of not being permitted to do so.
The 15-member UNSC delegation comprising representatives from 15 countries visited Maungdaw on Tuesday, during which Rohingya residents of Pan Taw Pyin village met with them, U Anarwa, the village administrator, told The Irrawaddy.
The Rohingya told the delegation that they do not want to accept national verification cards (NVCs) issued by the Myanmar government.
“They asked us about education, freedom of movement and the burning of homes. We told them that we want to be able to travel freely around Maungdaw and that we do not want NVCs because we have lived here for generations. But they said nothing in response,” he told The Irrawaddy.
When asked about the arson, a local Rohingya villager told the UNSC delegation that the Myanmar Army was responsible for the burning of homes.
NVCs have been issued since June 7, 2016, and through Jan. 3, 2018, they had been issued to 6,097 men and 3,076 women, according to the government.
The delegation visited Hla Poe Khaung and Taung Pyo Letwe repatriation camps and the Rohingya villages Shwezaa, and Pan Taw Pyin.
They also met Hindu and ethnic Mro families whose relatives were killed in attacks allegedly carried out by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), according to the government – a claim that ARSA denied. The delegations also met with eight Hindu women who claimed that ARSA abducted them and took them to Bangladesh.
“They asked me if I knew who killed my family members,” said one of the abducted women Rica who said she witnessed the killing of her husband.
“I told them that they were killed by Rohingya living near our village, and that I know and remember the murderers,” she added.
The delegation also met civil society organizations based in Sittwe at the Sittwe Airport lounge in the evening.
U Than Tun, general secretary of the Ancillary Committee for Reconstruction of Rakhine National Territory in the Western Frontier (ACRRNT), who attended the meeting, said: “We told the UNSC delegation that it is good that they have come here to see the real situation since they have only heard fake and fabricated news. I don’t know what their decision will be. But I noticed that they had already had their minds made up no matter what we said.”
The visit was the first of its kind by a UNSC delegation to Myanmar. The delegation also held talks with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar Army Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing on Monday.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.