USDP-Led Alliance Protests Rakhine Investigation Commission

By San Yamin Aung 7 August 2018

YANGON—The formerly ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is backed by the military, and its allies have protested against the newly formed commission of inquiry into rights abuses in Rakhine, citing fears of “foreign intervention.”

In a joint statement released on Monday, the parties said they opposed the inclusion and leading role of foreigners in the commission, adding that they “wouldn’t allow any organization or action that could harm either directly or indirectly the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and rule of law.”

The statement was issued by the USDP and 21 other political parties, the majority of which are currently unrepresented in Parliament, including the Peace for Diversity Party, National Development Party and New National Democracy Party, along with other small ethnic parties.

The independent commission comprising two local and two international members was formed on July 30 by the government to investigate allegations of human rights violations in Rakhine State following attacks on police posts there by the militant Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in late August 2017.

The commission is to be led by Rosario Manalo, a former deputy foreign minister of the Philippines. She is also a former chair and a current representative of the Philippines to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The commission also includes Kenzo Oshima, a former permanent representative to the UN for Japan.

The President’s Office announcement said the commission was “part of the government’s national initiative to address reconciliation, peace, stability and development in Rakhine.”

The USDP-led alliance said that despite the government’s claim, its findings and report will become a new mechanism for the UN to put pressure on the country on the world stage, and would be tantamount to accepting the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led advisory commission as a road map for solving the Rakhine State crisis.

They also called for the investigation to begin with the ARSA attacks, and not be limited to what happened after that.

Previously, the parties raised similar objections against the Kofi Annan–led advisory commission on Rakhine State and its reports, as well as the advisory team to the implementation committee, as “foreign intervention”.

During a joint press conference with the Japanese foreign affairs minister following their meeting in Naypyitaw on Monday, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the independent investigation commission would be allowed to carry out its work unobstructed, adding that the members of the commission are qualified.