By Dr Tha Sein
Most recently, Mr. Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has visited Myanmar where he met with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye, Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe, and Union Minister of Border Affairs Lt. Gen Ye Aung.
In meeting with the State Counsellor, he said that he was very happy to hear the State Counsellor saying “Refugees are welcome back from Thailand and we agreed that returns must be voluntary and sustainable. Refugees should not come back to a situation of dependency but of self-reliance.” He also reached out to Rakhine and Muslim communities north of Maungtaw and listened to their safety and livelihood concerns. He highlighted that the recommendations of the Advisory Commission of Rakhine State provided an important roadmap for the way forward.
National Security Adviser U Thaung Tun in his meeting with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina and high-ranking officials recently touched upon further strengthening bilateral cooperation in the fight against terrorism. The high-ranking officials assured that they would not allow any individuals or groups to use their territory for subversive acts against any neighbors, and that they would not accept separatist movements.
The present government is committed to resolving the simmering communal tensions in the Rakhine State, which has made headlines around the world. Regarding this, the State Counsellor stated that the problems in the Rakhine state have nothing to do with ethnic cleansing. It is a matter of people on different sides of the divide, and that the Union Government was trying its best to bridge the gap. To this ends, the Myanmar Government has formed the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State headed by former UN Secretary-General Dr Kofi Annan to look into the problems and to come up with practical long-term solutions. As the world is becoming increasingly interdependent, we must find ways to support each other and help each to thrive.
And it is high time the international community reoriented its strategic viewpoint on Myanmar and put a definite end to its accusations against the latter.
Now that foreign journalists led by an official from the Ministry of Information have been allowed to visit the restive region, they would find it easier to have access to local people they want to interview. Given that there had been numerous cases of gruesome killings of local officials and people who had cooperated with the government, we need to be vigilant, exercise restraint and stand together in times of hardship.
By Dr Tha Sein