An­nan calls for ur­gent ac­tions to im­prove Rakhine

The An­nan Com­mis­sion rec­om­mended a slew of mea­sures to stem the re­cur­ring cy­cles of vi­o­lence, poverty and rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion in Rakhine, which if unchecked could spi­ral into a big­ger na­tional se­cu­rity threat.

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page - NYAN LYNN AUNG nyan­lin­aung@mm­

FOR­MER UN sec­re­tary gen­eral Kofi An­nan on Thurs­day urged the gov­ern­ment to take ur­gent ac­tions on ci­ti­zen­ship, free­dom of move­ment and ver­i­fi­ca­tion is­sues to ease ten­sions in Rakhine State, warn­ing that fail­ure to do so could lead to more vi­o­lence and rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion among the Mus­lim mi­nor­ity pop­u­la­tion.

“Un­less con­certed ac­tion – led by the gov­ern­ment and aided by all sec­tors of the gov­ern­ment and so­ci­ety – is taken soon, we risk the re­turn of an­other cy­cle of vi­o­lence and rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion, which will fur­ther deepen the chronic poverty that af­flicts Rakhine State,” An­nan, who chairs the Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Rakhine State, said in a press brief­ing in Yangon.

The com­mis­sion un­der­scored the need to re­view the 1982 ci­ti­zen­ship law, to ac­cel­er­ate ci­ti­zen­ship ver­i­fi­ca­tion process, and to clar­ify sta­tus of those whose ci­ti­zen­ship ap­pli­ca­tion were de­nied.

The com­mis­sion on Wed­nes­day pre­sented its fi­nal re­port that con­sisted al­most 88 rec­om­men­da­tions the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment can take to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion in Rakhine, parts of which have been wracked by com­mu­nal vi­o­lence since 2012.

Se­nior Gen­eral Min Aung Hlaing, Com­man­der in Chief of the De­fence Ser­vices, told An­nan on Wed­nes­day that Ben­galis must reg­is­ter with the process of ver­i­fi­ca­tion as a nec­es­sary step in ver­i­fy­ing ci­ti­zen­ship.

He stressed that the process of ver­i­fi­ca­tion must be in ac­cor­dance with 1982 ci­ti­zen­ship law.

The com­mis­sion re­port said sev­eral gov­ern­ment poli­cies re­lated to ci­ti­zen­ship ver­i­fi­ca­tion, rights and equal­ity be­fore the law, doc­u­men­ta­tion and the in­ter­nally dis­placed and free­dom of move­ment have af­fected “the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion dis­pro­por­tion­ally.”

“The com­mis­sion has put for­ward hon­est and con­struc­tive rec­om­men­da­tions which we know will cre­ate de­bate,” An­nan said.

“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,” he added.

The com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions have em­pha­sised on eco­nomic and so­cial devel­op­ment, ci­ti­zen­ship, free­dom of move­ment, is­sue of rights and ac­cess to jus­tice.

“The sit­u­a­tion on the ground could worsen if the gov­ern­ment does not im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions,” said An­nan.

He added that the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the im­ple­men­ta­tions of the rec­om­men­da­tions lies with the gov­ern­ment, in­sti­tu­tions and the peo­ple.

“We are ad­vi­sory and we ad­vised the rec­om­men­da­tion. We will not force to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions,” An­nan said.

The com­mis­sion urged the gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish a “min­is­te­rial-level” ap­point­ment solely to co­or­di­nate the gov­ern­ment pol­icy on Rakhine State and en­sure the ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

“The ap­pointee should be sup­ported by a per­ma­nent and well-staffed sec­re­tariat, which will be an in­te­gral part of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee on Im­ple­men­ta­tion of Peace and Devel­op­ment in Rakhine State and sup­port its work,” An­nan said.

The re­port is the out­come of over 150 con­sul­ta­tions and meet­ings held by the Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion since its launch in Septem­ber 2016.

The UN wel­comed the re­lease of the com­pre­hen­sive re­port of the Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Rakhine State and said it stands ready to sup­port the gov­ern­ment’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rec­om­men­da­tions for the bet­ter­ment of all com­mu­ni­ties in the state.

“We look for­ward to re­view­ing the re­port’s rec­om­men­da­tions. In the mean­time, we would like to ac­knowl­edge again the sig­nif­i­cance of the gov­ern­ment’s es­tab­lish­ment of this com­mis­sion and the im­por­tance of its man­date to an­a­lyse the sit­u­a­tion of all com­mu­ni­ties in Rakhine State and draft rec­om­men­da­tions to­ward con­flict pre­ven­tion, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, in­sti­tu­tion build­ing, devel­op­ment and hu­man­i­tar­ian ser­vices,” the UN state­ment said.

Phil Robert­son, deputy di­rec­tor for Asia at Hu­man Rights Watch, said the com­mis­sion has put its fin­ger on a key is­sue when it fo­cuses on for­mal and in­for­mal re­stric­tions on free­dom of move­ment and the cas­cad­ing, highly dam­ag­ing im­pact those have on hu­man rights, abil­ity to earn a liv­ing, and ac­cess to ba­sic ser­vices.

He added, un­less the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment can break the lock that Rakhine ex­trem­ists and cor­rupt of­fi­cials have on whether peo­ple can move for eco­nomic and so­cial pur­poses, many of the other re­forms will likely fail.

“The com­mis­sion’s straight­for­ward ap­proach to the thorny is­sues of state­less­ness, eth­nic­ity and vul­ner­a­bil­ity to rights abuses is re­ally about mak­ing the best of a very bad sit­u­a­tion. The Myan­mar gov­ern­ment has promised to faith­fully im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of the com­mis­sion and this will be the key test of that com­mit­ment,” he said.

Mean­while, the Burmese Ro­hingya Or­gan­i­sa­tion UK said they wel­come the rec­om­men­da­tions made by the com­mis­sion, but we are con­cerned whether the Nld-led gov­ern­ment will ac­tu­ally im­ple­ment them, and call on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to en­sure that the rec­om­men­da­tions are im­ple­mented as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“At the top of the gov­ern­ment’s agenda should be the re­vis­ing of the 1982 Ci­ti­zen­ship Law in line with “in­ter­na­tional stan­dards and treaties to en­sure full and unim­peded hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­cess… to all com­mu­ni­ties in Rakhine State,” said the state­ment.

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