August 13, 2017

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Government rejects UN Rakhine investigation

The decision yesterday by the United Nations Human Rights Council to send an international fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of abuse by security forces against Muslims in Rakhine state was rebuffed by Myanmar’s diplomatic and political leaders as well as government officials from China and India.
“The establishment of an international fact-finding mission would do more to inflame, rather than resolve the issues at this time” according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released late last night. “It is also not in accord with the situation on ground and the national circumstances. Given this, and the government’s very real and serious efforts to build stability and find lasting solutions, Myanmar has dissociated itself from the resolution as a whole. A number of the HRC member countries including China and India have also dissociated themselves from the resolution or voiced their opposition to the establishment of such mission”.
Myanmar’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, U Htin Lynn, speaking before the decision was taken by consensus, rejected the move as “not acceptable”. The Maungtaw Investigation Commission had just interviewed alleged victims who fled to Bangladesh and would issue its findings by August, he said.
The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution without a vote, brought by the European Union and supported by countries including the United States, that called for “ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims”.
A UN report issued last month, based on interviews with 220 members of Rakhine’s Muslim community among the 75,000 who have fled to Bangladesh since October, said that Myanmar’s security forces have committed mass killings and gang rapes of Muslims in northern Rakhine State in a campaign that “very likely” amounts to crimes against humanity and possibly ethnic cleansing.
U Htin Lynn, referring to the resolution, said: “Such kind of action is not acceptable to Myanmar as it is not in harmony with the situation on the ground (or) our national circumstances. Let the Myanmar people choose the best and the most effective course of action to address the challenges in Myanmar.
“We will be doing what needs to be done and we will do it with great prudence and probity,” he added.
China and India said they would “disassociate” themselves from the consensus, with China’s delegation saying the issue “cannot be solved overnight”.
The statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Myanmar’s own investigations would continue.
“The government of Myanmar is fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. It will be steadfast in its commitment to advancing human rights for the benefit of all people in Myanmar. To this effect, the government will set out a clear action plan for the prompt implementation of the recommendations made by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in its interim report last week”, the statement read.
Activists welcomed what they called a “landmark decision” by the 47-member forum, while regretting that it was not a full international commission of inquiry, and called on the government to cooperate.
“It is unfortunate that the government of Burma/Myanmar has chosen to disassociate itself from this resolution,” John Samuel, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA, said in a statement.—GNLM/Reuters contributed to this report

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