Re­port on Rakhine State is hon­est and con­struc­tive

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News - THE MYAN­MAR TIMES news­room@mm­times.com

THE Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Rakhine State, led by for­mer UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Kofi An­nan, has re­leased a fi­nal re­port that makes hon­est and con­struc­tive rec­om­men­da­tions.

These in­clude calls for a process on ci­ti­zen­ship ver­i­fi­ca­tion, rights and equal­ity be­fore the law, doc­u­men­ta­tion, im­prov­ing the lives of in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple and more free­dom of move­ment, which dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fects the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion.

The re­port is the re­sult of over 150 con­sul­ta­tions and meet­ings by the com­mis­sion’s mem­bers since its es­tab­lish­ment in Septem­ber 2016. They trav­elled ex­ten­sively through­out Rakhine State and held meet­ings both in­side and out­side the trou­bled re­gion. They met in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, as well as in In­done­sia, Thai­land, Bangladesh and Geneva.

Fol­low­ing a re­quest from State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Kofi An­nan Foun­da­tion and her of­fice es­tab­lished the com­mis­sion as a na­tional en­tity with a ma­jor­ity of Myan­mar mem­bers. It was man­dated to ex­am­ine the com­plex chal­lenges fac­ing Rakhine and to pro­pose re­sponses to those chal­lenges. An­nan re­vealed that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi asked the com­mis­sion to be bold with its rec­om­men­da­tions.

“At the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the com­mis­sion, the State Coun­sel­lor urged us to be bold in our rec­om­men­da­tions. We have fol­lowed that ad­vice,” he said.

An­nan said his group has put for­ward hon­est and con­struc­tive rec­om­men­da­tions that would cre­ate de­bate. “How­ever, if adopted and im­ple­mented in the spirit in which they were con­ceived, I firmly be­lieve that our rec­om­men­da­tions, along with those of our in­terim re­port, can trace a path to last­ing peace, devel­op­ment and re­spect for the rule of law in Rakhine State.”

In ad­di­tion, the com­mis­sion rec­om­mends the set­ting up of a na­tional mech­a­nism “to en­sure the ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of its rec­om­men­da­tions.”

An­nan pro­posed a min­is­te­rial-level po­si­tion to co­or­di­nate pol­icy on Rakhine and en­sure the ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rec­om­men­da­tions. The ap­pointee should be backed by a per­ma­nent and well staffed sec­re­tariat, which will be an in­te­gral part and sup­port the work of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee on Im­ple­men­ta­tion of Peace and Devel­op­ment in Rakhine State.

At the half­way point of the panel’s man­date in March, Kofi said he wel­comed the ini­tial steps by the gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions con­tained in the in­terim re­port. But the for­mer UN chief ad­mit­ted there is still a long road to travel be­fore “we can be con­fi­dent that the peace and pros­per­ity of Rakhine State are as­sured.”

At the press con­fer­ence, he said that the armed forces and other se­cu­rity ser­vices have a crit­i­cal role to play in build­ing a bet­ter fu­ture for Rakhine State. He was please, he added, that his com­mis­sion was able to meet and con­sult with the Com­man­der-in-chief, Se­nior Gen­eral Min Aung Hliang and other se­nior of­fi­cers of the Tat­madaw on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.

Rakhine State faces com­plex po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and so­cial chal­lenges, he pointed out. They can only be sur­mounted through a sus­tained and co­or­di­nated ef­fort by the civil­ian and mil­i­tary author­i­ties at the Union, State and the lo­cal lev­els.

The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity should con­tinue to play a strong, gen­er­ous and im­par­tial role in sup­port of the na­tional ef­forts needed to help Rakhine move for­ward. “There is no time to lose. The sit­u­a­tion in Rakhine State is be­com­ing more pre­car­i­ous,” he con­cluded.

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