By Zin Linn
Burma has initiated the formation of an ‘Investigation Commission’ for an independent enquiry into recent horrific sectarian violence in the Rakhine state, which the United Nations human rights envoy to Burma said was one of the country’s one various human rights challenges at present.
The president of Myanmar (Burma), Thein Sein, signed Notification No. 58/2012 of the Union Government of Myanmar dated August 17, 2012 to form an investigation commission.
According to the Notification, there occurred organized lawless and anarchic acts that can harm peace, stability and rule of law in Rakhine State in May and June, 2012. The investigation commission was formed to investigate the truth and to propose opinion for the national interest.
Following the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar (Burma), Tomas Ojea Quintana called for the establishment of an independent commission earlier this month, President Thein Sein’s assignment came into view to investigate the confrontation relating to the rights abuses, some of which were seemingly done by the security authorities.
As mentioned in the Notification, the investigation commission has been chaired by Dr. Myo Myint, a retired Director General from Ministry of Religious Affairs. Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing of Myanmar Egress has become secretary of the committee.
The Notification says: The Investigation commission is to launch a probe into the incident in connection with the following issues:
(a) causes of the incident
(b) casualties, injuries, losses of property and other damages
(c) maintenance of rule of laws to attain stability
(d) performance of rehabilitation and rescue works
(e) short-term and long-term plans to end the conflict
(f) ways and means to co-exist peacefully among the communities in different religious beliefs
(g) suggestions for maintaining the rule of law
(h) suggestions for economic and social development
Distinguished comedian Zagana, 88-Generation student leader Ko Ko Gyi and the veteran journalist Maung Wuntha are also assigned to the 27-member investigation commission, which also includes retired civil servicemen and members from various political parties, religious groups.
Among these members are Reverend U Kyaw Nyunt (Judson Church, Yangon), Reverend U Saw Mar Gay Gyi (Myanmar Baptist Convention), U Thein Tun (Businessman), U Khun Htun Oo (Chairman of Shan National League for Democracy Party), Daw Than Than Nu (Democratic Party -Myanmar), U Khin Maung Swe (Chairman of National Democratic Front), Dr. Aye Maung (Chairman of Rakhine Nationalities Development Party), U Aye Thar Aung (Rakhine National League for Democracy), Dr. Daw Yin Yin Ngwe (UNICEF Senior Officer -Retired), Dr. Salai Mu Kyone Lai (International Laws Expert), U Tin Aung Moe (Environmentalist), U Aung Naing Oo (Ba-Hu Development Group), Daw Wah Wah Tun (Chairperson of Myanmar Women Entrepreneur Association), Daw Jar Nan (Executive Director, Nyein Foundation), U Tun Aung Chain (Myanmar Human Rights Commission), Hajji U Nyunt Maung Shein (President, Islam Religious Council Headquarter), Hajji U Tin Maung Than (Secretary, Islam Religious Council Headquarter), Hajji U Hla Win (Chairman, Myanmar Muslim National Federation), U Kyaw Khin (General Secretary, Myanmar Muslim National Federation), Hajji U Myint Tun (Chairman, Myanmar Muslim Youth ‘Religious’ Federation), U Hla Win (Secretary, Myanmar Muslim Youth ‘Religious’ Federation) and Dr. Hla Tun (Secretary, Hindu Federation)
According to the notification, the investigation commission has to submit the report directly to the President by 17 September, 2012 after making necessary investigation into the case in line with Penal Code and Evidence Act. It also mentions that the location trip, the summoning of the witnesses and the request for documents are also permitted.
On 9 August 2012, President Thein Sein received a delegation led by Turkish Foreign Minister Mr. Ahmet Davutoglu in Naypyitaw. The visiting Turkish FM said that the optimistic image of Myanmar should not be tarnished due to Rakhine dilemma. He said he would brief his real findings in OIC meeting to be held in Saudi Arabia next week on the Rakhine issue.
He said he stood with Myanmar against misunderstandings on Myanmar in Turkey. The misinterpretation of OIC countries could be prevented by allowing international assistances, as people from various religions including Islam lived in harmony in Myanmar.
The president said that he was disappointed by misinformation of the media. The pictures of genocide spreading in the internet were not from Rakhine incidents but from other parts of the world. Those fake media coverage try to fuel the viewers that these things are occurring in Rakhine, he said.
According to the President, only 77 persons – 31 Rakhine nationals and 46 Bengalis – lost lives during the incident. Around 100 victims from both sides were injured. A total of 4,800 houses were destroyed by fire, as both sides burnt up in rage.
A press conference was held on 30 July in order to brief the diplomats on the Rakhine issue. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Situation in Myanmar Mr. Quintana also attended the press conference as he was on a visit in Myanmar.