Govt to in­ves­ti­gate ARSA mas­sacre

The Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent on Thurs­day an­nounced that it has set up an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate the mas­sacre of Hin­dus in north­ern Rakhine.

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page - LUN MIN MANG lun­min­mang@mm­times.com

THE gov­ern­ment has formed a three-mem­ber in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion com­mis­sion that will in­clude “one in­ter­na­tional per­son­al­ity” to look into hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice an­nounced on Thurs­day.

The com­mis­sion will in­ves­ti­gate “the vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights and re­lated is­sues fol­low­ing the ter­ror­ist at­tacks by the Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army”, the state­ment said.

“Na­tional and in­ter­na­tional le­gal and technical ex­perts” will as­sist the team, it said.

The state­ment how­ever did not say who would be in­volved in the com­mis­sion. It also did not de­scribe if the team would be al­lowed to probe al­le­ga­tions di­rected against Tat­madaw per­son­nel.

The for­ma­tion of the com­mis­sion comes a week af­ter Amnesty In­ter­na­tional re­vealed its find­ings that ARSA fight­ers mas­sa­cred Hindu vil­lagers in Maung­daw town­ship in north­ern Rakhine on Au­gust 25.

Ac­cord­ing to the AI re­port, up to 99 Hindu men, women and chil­dren were killed by ARSA and dozens re­mained miss­ing fol­low­ing the group’s at­tacks on gov­ern­ment se­cu­rity out­posts.

In a state­ment on its Twit­ter ac­count a few days af­ter the re­port came out, ARSA ve­he­mently de­nied the AI as­ser­tions, de­scrib­ing it as “un­jus­ti­fi­able and care­less se­ri­ous crim­i­nal ac­cu­sa­tions”.

“We cat­e­gor­i­cally deny all of these un­jus­ti­fi­able and care­less se­ri­ous crim­i­nal ac­cu­sa­tions men­tioned in the said re­port,” it said.

Since 2012, Rakhine has suf­fered waves of in­ter-com­mu­nal vi­o­lence that have dis­placed hun­dreds of thou­sands of vil­lagers.

The United Na­tions es­ti­mated that around 700,000 Mus­lim res­i­dents have fled to neigh­bour­ing Bangladesh since the Au­gust 25 ARSA at­tacks and a brutal mil­i­tary coun­terin­sur­gency cam­paign.

The Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice state­ment said the for­ma­tion of the com­mis­sion is one of the ini­tia­tives that was in line with the “in­terim rec­om­men­da­tions” of the Ad­vi­sory Board for the Com­mit­tee for the Im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Rec­om­men­da­tions on Rakhine State.

The state­ment de­scribed the for­ma­tion of the “In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion of En­quiry” as part of its “na­tional ini­tia­tive” to build rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, peace and sta­bil­ity and de­vel­op­ment in Rakhine.

A United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil del­e­ga­tion that vis­ited Rakhine in May urged the gov­ern­ment to con­duct a proper in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the al­leged hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions per­pe­trated by se­cu­rity forces against the Mus­lim mi­nor­ity.

The Myan­mar gov­ern­ment is fi­nal­is­ing talks with the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme and the Of­fice of the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights to sign agree­ments on the two agen­cies’ role in ad­dress­ing the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Rakhine.

In Novem­ber the gov­ern­ment signed an agree­ment with Bangladesh for the repa­tri­a­tion of the refugees, but a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional agen­cies, in­clud­ing the UN, said the repa­tri­a­tion is not yet fea­si­ble due to se­cu­rity prob­lems in Rakhine. The Myan­mar gov­ern­ment said it is ready to ac­cept the refugees.

‘We cat­e­gor­i­cally deny all of these un­jus­ti­fi­able and care­less ... ac­cu­sa­tions men­tioned in the said re­port.’ ARSA State­ment

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