Kofi An­nan to make sec­ond trip to Myan­mar

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - – Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Ye Mon NYAN LYNN AUNG nyan­lin­aung@mm­times.com

The for­mer UN chief and cur­rent chair of the Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Rakhine State is due to con­vene meet­ings in Yangon to­mor­row, be­fore head­ing to Rakhine and Nay Pyi Taw.

AMID con­tin­ued vi­o­lence in north­ern Rakhine State and grow­ing con­cern from in­ter­na­tional ob­servers, for­mer UN sec­re­tary gen­eral Kofi An­nan will be pay­ing an­other visit to Myan­mar while State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi may be re­con­sid­er­ing the dates for her trip to In­done­sia.

Mr An­nan, chair of the Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Rakhine State, is set to con­vene meet­ings in Yangon to­mor­row be­fore head­ing to Rakhine State and Nay Pyi Taw, the com­mis­sion has an­nounced. His sec­ond trip to the coun­try is sched­uled to in­clude three days in north­ern Rakhine State in Maung­daw dis­trict, as well as Mye­bon and MraukU town­ships. Ac­cess to the north­ern part of the state has been se­verely re­stricted in the wake of lethal raids on bor­der guard posts start­ing on Oc­to­ber 9 and sub­se­quent Tat­madaw “clear­ance op­er­a­tions”. For­eign diplo­mats and UN rep­re­sen­ta­tives were es­corted by se­cu­rity forces through the area on Novem­ber 4, but in­de­pen­dent travel to the re­gion has been barred.

Daw Saw Khin Tint, a mem­ber of the com­mis­sion, told The Myan­mar Times that on its com­ing trip the com­mis­sion plans to ob­serve the ar­eas where the at­tacks oc­curred and to lis­ten to the res­i­dents’ con­cerns.

“The com­mis­sion will sub­mit an in­terim re­port in Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary next year … Be­fore we do that, we need to ob­serve, lis­ten and anal­yse as much as we can,” she said.

Since the vi­o­lence resurged in the area, thou­sands have been freshly dis­placed, ac­cord­ing to the UN, while Hu­man Rights Watch said satel­lite im­agery shows vil­lages in the area have been torched. Some hu­man­i­tar­ian aid de­liv­er­ies were re­cently re­sumed, but an es­ti­mated 130,000 peo­ple are still un­able to ac­cess food ra­tions. Sev­eral coun­tries, in­clud­ing the United States last week, have called for an in­de­pen­dent, on-the­ground in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

U Zaw Htay, deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice, con­firmed Mr An­nan’s up­com­ing trip, and said the com­mis­sion would be in charge of its sched­ule.

The com­mis­sion was formed by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Au­gust, with a man­date to iden­tify con­flict-pre­ven­tion mea­sures and ad­vise on is­sues of hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Rakhine State. The com­mis­sion trig­gered back­lash among na­tion­al­ist Rakhine groups, which lob­bied the govern­ment to dis­solve the ad­vi­sory team.

Mr An­nan first trav­elled to Rakhine State in his ca­pac­ity as chair of the com­mis­sion in Septem­ber, when he vis­ited both Rakhine Bud­dhist and Mus­lim Ro­hingya IDP camps.

Mean­while, fac­ing in­ter­na­tional back­lash for her rel­a­tive si­lence on Rakhine State and con­tin­ued al­le­ga­tions of abuses dur­ing the se­cu­rity forces’ sweeps for ter­ror­ist sus­pects, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi re­port­edly de­layed a planned trip to In­done­sia yes­ter­day.

Daw Aung Suu Kyi had been ex­pected to travel to In­done­sia af­ter vis­it­ing Sin­ga­pore from Novem­ber 30 to De­cem­ber 2.

“We post­poned the In­done­sia trip be­cause of the prob­lems in Rakhine and also north­ern Shan State,” for­eign min­istry deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral Daw Aye Aye Soe told AFP yes­ter­day.

Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs spokesper­son U Kyaw Zeya re­port­edly told The Wall Street Jour­nal yes­ter­day that re­cent protests in In­done­sia con­trib­uted to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s de­ci­sion to de­lay her trip.

Hun­dreds of In­done­sian Mus­lim stu­dents staged a protest in front of the Myan­mar em­bassy in Jakarta on Novem­ber 24, demon­strat­ing against treat­ment of the Mus­lim mi­nor­ity in Rakhine State. Sep­a­rately over the week­end, In­done­sian po­lice re­port­edly ar­rested two sus­pects who had planned to at­tack sev­eral lo­ca­tions in the cap­i­tal, in­clud­ing the Myan­mar em­bassy.

How­ever, when asked about the state coun­sel­lor’s sus­pended trip to In­done­sia, both U Zaw Htaw and U Kyaw Zeya de­nied that the visit had been post­poned.

“We are still ne­go­ti­at­ing for the date. The trip was not post­poned or can­celled due to the protest­ing. The date has not yet been fixed,” U Zaw Htay said.

U Kyaw Zeya said when the trip is fi­nalised it will be an­nounced in state me­dia. He added that the visit had not of­fi­cially been an­nounced in the state press as of yes­ter­day.

“The trip will be ar­ranged soon. [The tim­ing] is not re­lated with Rakhine is­sues,” he said.

Photo: Nyan Zay Htet

Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Rakhine State chair Kofi An­nan (left) holds a joint press con­fer­ence with State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (right) in Yangon on Septem­ber 5.

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