Outgoing Remarks from Rakhine Advisory Board

By The Irrawaddy 17 August 2018

YANGON — The Rakhine Advisory Board said its recommendations to the government remain a work in progress, although the government has responded to them well so far—most notably that of the establishment of the Independent Commission of Inquiry—during its press conference, before dissolving the Board in Naypyitaw on Thursday.

The Advisory Board to the Committee for Implementation of the Recommendations on Rakhine State, led by Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai, was formed in December last year and has now completed its advisory role saying on Thursday that “work should now progress to the implementation stage.” It submitted the final report on Aug.16 to State Counselor Daw Aung San San Suu Kyi and the committee chairman, Dr. Win Myat Aye, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.

The Advisory Board praised the Implementation Committee for its ongoing efforts and progress in implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Commission led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, but also highlighted in its statement on Aug. 16 that it “recognized that much work remains to be done, particularly in the area of repatriation and resettlement.”

The Advisory Board’s recommendations also included implementation of inter-communal dialogue between the communities, a pilot project for a model township and assistance to the health sector in Rakhine State.

The mandate of the Advisory Board has been completed as it has submitted its findings and the Implementation Committee will continue its tasks, said U Zaw Htay the government spokesman.

The Advisory Board’s recommended commission, the Independent Commission of Inquiry, is to investigate allegations against the security forces of human rights violations and related issues in northern Rakhine state, following the attacks by ARSA on security posts on Oct. 9, 2016 and Aug. 25, 2017 which led some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee from their homes to neighboring Bangladesh.

Although its term was a short and one of its members, the UK diplomat Bill Richardson left at the beginning of the mission, the Advisory Board said it assisted “by acting as a bridge-builder” between the Myanmar government and the international community.

“I was pleased to note that since January 2018 when the Advisory Board began its work, relations between the Myanmar government and the UN had improved,” said Dr. Surakirat in the statement, citing the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the government and UNHCR and UNDP at the end of May, as well as the visit of the UN secretary-general’s special envoy to Myanmar in June.