The answers to the questions raised in the press conference held in Yangon on the morning of 6 August by Maungtaw Investigation Commission is described below.
Q. Please explain what are in the commission’s report concerning the plan how to undertake the development of Rakhine including northern Rakhine which is poverty-stricken and low in living standard.
A. By Dr Hla Maung, Rtd. Ambassador, member of commission
The most important point of the root cause of conflicts often happened in Rakhine State including Maungtaw is found to be the extreme poverty and very low socioeconomic conditions of the above-said area. It is found out that if the socioeconomic condition of the Rakhine State is extremely low compared to that of the whole country. Rakhine is the second last in line of poverty in Myanmar, Chin State being the last in the line. Moreover the agricultural sector and the sector of animal and fishery products, and other infrastructures such as transport, electricity, schools and hospitals are impoverished compared to other States and Regions.
Currently, agricultural sector and fishery sector take the vital part of the commodity production of the Rakhine State. If the means of production in those two sectors can be switched from the conventional to modern and scientific production, the production will become two to three times higher than the previous production. Likewise promoting the economic infrastructures including transport, electricity, schools and hospitals in Rakhine State should be planned and implemented accordingly.
Regarding the labour wages, Myanmar is much lower than those of other neighbouring countries and the wages in Rakhine State including Maungtaw area is the lowest in Myanmar. However the cheap labour wages can attract the investment of industrial works in Rakhine State. So, if the Special Economic Zones including Export Processing Zones and Small and Medium Scale industrial works can be established near the sea ports in Rakhine State, many foreign direct investment s will come in and it can boost the GDP and export value resulting in the emergence of job opportunities. It then will raise the per capita income of the State and consequently conflicts become abated.
Q. UN accused Myanmar of racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing or genocide. If there is any response to that accusations? If any please explain. A plan for administration for Rakhine State is suggested, it is learnt. If it is true let us know the plan.
A. By U Aung Kyi, Union Minister (retired), member of commission
There is no special discussion denying the accusations. The rebellious acts of them can be legitimized according to the international law if there appear firm assessment on occurrence of genocide in an area. I can answer they have such an intention.
When we scrutinize the sequence of their action it is found that; firstly they collected the arms and attacked the security forces; they looted the arms and ammunition from the quarter of security forces; they employ different methods to prevent the arms from retrieving by government force; they tried to concoct a make-up story of existence of genocide or racial cleansing in Rakhine State using the media. Those sequence of actions indicate that they intend to fabricate a story in trying to support the accusations. That is my personal view.
Actually the mission of the commission includes the freedom and security of the people. Therefore we have taken immediate action on scrutiny of nationalization works in accordance with the existing law. We have also strived to exercise the freedom of religion, freedom of worship, freedom of movements(travel), freedom of livelihood and freedom of trade.
Vice President himself went to the river port and supervise the opening of the port. When the local and foreign media visited the area of incidence they were granted the freedom of securing the information from the public.
Some people who had met direct with the media and had talk freely were later killed by the attackers of other side. News were also released in due course of time. Special judicial courts were also opened for quick trial in a proper way. Families of the arrested were also allowed to meet the arrested person concerned.
The crime of attacking a place like Border Guard Police Force headquarters which was taking the duty of enforcing the rule of law and security and taking away arms and ammunition equals to a terrorist act threatening the State sovereignty. In the video clip, terrorists said they were going to fulfill the years-long desire. It is a matter involving human rights, humanity, and other wider issues such as security and politics.
Internationally they declared themselves the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). The leader is Habat Dula. Although he was a villager of Kyaukpyinseik Village in Maungtaw Township, he was brought up abroad. He had lived in Saudi Arabia and received military training together with armed militants in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Group trainings and funds are provided by some who are living in certain Middle East countries after leaving Maungtaw. It is found that the financial management group is managing the monetary affairs systematically.
Persons coming from Bangladesh are providing military training. Definitely, there are foreign connections. But we cannot say exactly whether those organizations are terrorist groups or not. I clearly say that financial provisions and trainings have foreign connections.
They established their ideology since 1942. We have found that they are using four ways. The first one is that they launched attacks with the use guerrilla tactics even before the establishment of a firm unit. They attacked three places simultaneously at night, looted arms and then disappeared. In some engagements they used force. But in many cases they used guerrilla tactics.
The second is they applied the tactic of terrorist groups. They used car engines as mines. We had seized some of them. In May 2017, village militants demonstrated mine installation. They used international terrorist tactics in launching mine attacks.
The third is they intimidated the persons they thought were government supporters or non-supporters of their movement through the internet. They then murdered such persons day by day. Up to 30 June, they have already killed 44. They slit the throats of 27. They are applying those brutal methods with the intention of weakening the government administration, and terrifying the locals. They have long-term aims.
The fourth is propagandizing through social network which is dangerous. Some may become extremists by just reading the ideologies on the social network. The recent incidents were aimed at attacking the government administrative machinery. It is worrisome for the nation in the long-term.
Q: Your view on the accusations saying that there are religious persecution and racial discrimination in Maungtaw area. Does the commission also face such accusations?
A: Dr Tha Nyan: General Secretary of YMCA (commission member)
According to the Constitution Myanmar permits the freedom of worship for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and animists. There is freedom of worshipping and practicing religious deeds. We have not found any religious persecution in Mauntaw region and no accusation in connection with religion. We arrived at Myothugyi village in Maungtaw Township. Because of the lack of education and knowledge and fear, they misunderstood the Section 144. We allowed worshipping. They could say prayers at day time except in the early morning and evening under curfew. There were Arabic religious schools. Maungtaw region alone had 1278 Mosques and 1657 Mawlawis, 17 Hindu temples, seven churches, and 121 monasteries. These figures prove that there is no religious persecution and racial discrimination.
Q: What did the commission do for the security and for ensuring human rights of the people of Maungtaw Township and what are its future plans?
A:U Aung Kyi, Former Union Minister (commission member)
The first point is that human rights is a much broader issue. If there is weakness in a sector of human rights, we must find the root cause. There must mutual respect of human rights between communities. If there is respect, they will be no problem. Likewise the administrative bodies and others must have respect for human rights. We need to understand it as a duty for every person. We need to further promote human rights in this region. We have already submitted the 48-point work program to the president. We have requested to form a body to implement the program. We have also made a request to always support the body to observe and safeguard human rights. I have already explained about the security. As it is a border area, the border guard will continue to take the security duty. So it should be reinforced. We have to hold discussion and put forward suggestions to beef up security at the areas where transport is poor. Our discussions were centred on securing the area mainly with the police force.
Q: Time and again we have heard that there is no genocide, ethnic cleansing or rape and that there are only invented accusations after the commission had looked into the matter thoroughly. But what we have heard is totally different from the points issued by watchdogs including the UN. Why?
A: It is difficult prove what really never exists. Let alone people living in Myanmar even the persons who know about Myanmar well will not believe exaggerated accusations such as the act of molesting, gang raping, kicking the belly of a pregnant woman, or killing parents right in front of their children. But we have never turned a blind eye to the matter. We are looking into the matter carefully.
Some of the cases are caused by misunderstanding, some are totally untrue and some are group-wise hatched lies. We are reluctant to make quick conclusions. But the international community is making hasty decisions. If OHCHR waited for our report, its own report would be helpful. Unfortunately the report was issued in haste. This has enlarged the problem rather than solving it.—News Team