The report by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State chaired by Kofi Annan calls for social progress, citizenship rights, security and closure of refugee camps. Human rights groups welcome it. Aung San Suu Kyi pledged to respect its results. For General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, certain points in the report need to be re-examined, and changes must be made to factual errors and biased attitudes.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A year after the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State was set up to investigate violence and discrimination against the Rohingya Muslim minority, chairman Kofi Annan presented its final report yesterday.
Human rights groups have welcomed the document, whilst Myanmar’s military have criticised its findings.
In a statement issued today after meeting this morning with Kofi Annan, General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, said the report contains some flaws and shortcomings.
Located in western Myanmar, Rakhine is one of the country’s poorest states. For several years, it has been seething with sectarianism.
Myanmar, a Buddhist majority nation, has faced growing international criticism for its treatment of the Rohingya, which it deems illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
After reading the report, General Hlaing said that it should be amended and made flawless, suggesting that certain points be examined and modified to eliminate factual errors and unfair attitudes.
Last year, Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi appointed former UN Secretary general Kofi Annan to chair the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State to examine the divisions that have torn the state apart and find a solution to them. Talks were held over the past 12 months in Rakhine, Yangon, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Geneva.
In its report, the Commission advises the Government of Myanmar to achieve social progress by encouraging investment and providing basic services in Rakhine. Its key points include rectifying the Rohingya's citizenship, issuing national registration cards, reducing tensions, and engaging in reconciliation through dialogue between communities.
The report also mentions the need for border security, bilateral cooperation with Bangladesh, and greater anti-drug activities.
Another point stressed is the call for the closure of refugee camps, which have hosted about 120,000 people in extreme discomfort since the outbreak of violence in 2012.
Human rights groups have welcomed the report as a milestone for Rohingya claims, which Aung San Suu Kyi's government has previously promised to respect.
Myanmar had initially opposed the work of any UN commission of inquiry, an institution profoundly disliked by the Burmese. To get it accepted, Ms Aung San had said that she placed her trust in Kofi Annan, strongly rejecting allegations of "ethnic cleansing" made in other international reports.
After it was established, the Commission’s task became increasingly urgent after Myanmar’s military launched a bloody repression in northern Rakhine in the wake of deadly attacks on some police stations by a Rohingya militant group in October.
Since then, more than 87,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh, reporting murders, mass rapes, and burnt villages.
Experts say the results of the Annan Commission will put pressure on Aung San Suu Kyi’s government. At the same time, the state counsellor faces a strong opposition from Buddhist nationalists, who are demanding the expulsion of the Rohingya.
Ms Aung San also exerts very little power over the armed forces, Myanmar’s most influential institution.