Political par­ties rail against Rakhine State com­mis­sion

The Myanmar Times - - News - YE MON yeemon­tun@mm­times.com

FUR­THER but­tress­ing com­plaints about the Rakhine State Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion, 11 political par­ties put out a joint state­ment call­ing for the dis­band­ing of the “il­le­git­i­mate” new body.

On Septem­ber 16, the political par­ties – in­clud­ing the for­mer rul­ing Union Sol­i­dar­ity and Devel­op­ment Party and the Arakan Na­tional Party – met in Yan­gon to dis­cuss ob­jec­tions to the newly formed com­mis­sion.

Eleven of the 13 par­ties present at the meet­ing agreed to sup­port the Rakhine State par­lia­ment’s vote to re­ject the com­mit­tee, a sym­bolic de­ci­sion made last week.

The com­mis­sion was formed by the state coun­sel­lor last month as an im­par­tial body with a man­date to pro­pose con­crete mea­sures for im­prov­ing the wel­fare of all peo­ple in Rakhine State. The crux of op­po­si­tion to the nine-mem­ber com­mis­sion, am­pli­fied by na­tion­al­ist protests, has hinged on its in­clu­sion of three for­eign­ers, in­clud­ing for­mer UN sec­re­tary gen­eral Kofi An­nan.

U Khin Yi, a spokesper­son for the USDP, said the political par­ties had re­solved to urge the gov­ern­ment to re­spond to mount­ing con­cerns over the ad­vi­sory com­mis­sion. He added that they also staunchly op­pose self-iden­ti­fy­ing Mus­lim Ro­hingya be­ing given their own state, an idea which has not been pro­posed by the gov­ern­ment, the com­mis­sion or mem­bers of the Ro­hingya com­mu­nity.

“We are con­cerned the com­mis­sion will agree to give them their own state in the coun­try,” he said.

Two of the par­ties present at the meet­ing – the Demo­cratic Party (Myan­mar) and the Shan Na­tion­al­i­ties Demo­cratic Party (SNDP) – de­clined to sign the joint state­ment.

But the New Na­tional Demo­cratic Party, the Na­tional Unity Party, the Na­tional Demo­cratic Force, the Na­tional Demo­cratic Party for Devel­op­ment, the Wa Demo­cratic Party, the Kayin State Democ­racy and Devel­op­ment Party, the Wun­thanu Na­tional League for Democ­racy, the Mod­ern Peo­ple’s Party, the Peo­ple’s Democ­racy Party, and the Demo­cratic Party for a New So­ci­ety joined the USDP and the ANP in sup­port­ing the state­ment.

Com­mis­sion mem­ber U Aye Lwin told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day that the com­mis­sion con­vened on Septem­ber 17 to for­mu­late a re­sponse to the joint state­ment.

“We want them to know we will be work­ing to­gether with peo­ple from all com­mu­ni­ties. Our com­mis­sion will only be of­fer­ing ad­vice to the gov­ern­ment,” he said.

The com­mis­sion has been tasked with rec­om­mend­ing so­lu­tions to the pro­tracted in­ter-com­mu­nal di­vide be­tween Bud­dhists and Mus­lims since vi­o­lence be­tween mem­bers of the two re­li­gions wracked the state in 2012, leav­ing more than 100,000 Ro­hingya dis­placed. Mem­bers of the com­mis­sion, which has es­tab­lished a base of op­er­a­tions in Sit­twe, have al­ready pledged to keep in mind a devel­op­ment-cen­tred ap­proach and will be sub­mit­ting rec­om­men­da­tions to the gov­ern­ment in the sec­ond half of 2017.

Re­spond­ing to the political par­ties’ state­ment while on a visit to the United States, State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she found it “very up­set­ting” that political or­gan­i­sa­tions would try to in­ter­fere with the com­mis­sion.

“The com­mis­sion is try­ing its best to ben­e­fit the peo­ple, but there are some who do not want it to be suc­cess­ful in its aims,” she said at a Septem­ber 17 meet­ing with Myan­mar ci­ti­zens at the Myan­mar con­sulate in New York.

She added that those op­pos­ing the com­mis­sion stand in the way of at­tempts at na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

Mem­bers of the ad­vi­sory com­mis­sion toured Sit­twe at the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber and were greeted at the air­port by protesters. Mr An­nan, who heads the com­mis­sion, wel­comed a di­a­logue with the ob­jec­tors and pledged that his team would not be look­ing to con­duct a “hu­man rights in­ves­ti­ga­tion” in the state.

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