Myanmar Must Act on the Rakhine Commission’s Recommendations

Myanmar must act on the Rakhine Commission’s recommendations put forth in their final report issued Thursday by the Kofi Annan-led Commission which recommends urgent and sustained action on a number of fronts to prevent violence, maintain peace, foster reconciliation and offer a sense of hope to the State’s hard-pressed population.

Included in the report is a clear outline of the many steps Myanmar’s authorities must take to end discrimination and segregation in the region.

Reacting to the report, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said: ‘’People in Rakhine State, in particular the Muslim Rohingya minority, have suffered a horrific catalogue of rights abuses for decades. The government has spent the past year playing for time and trying to hide behind the Commission, but has now run out of excuses not to act. Authorities in Myanmar must swiftly move to implement the report’s recommendations for improving the human rights situation and ending discrimination. In particular, they must urgently lift restrictions on movement, allow full access for humanitarian workers and media, and review and amend the country’s discriminatory citizenship laws.’’

After one year of consultations held across Rakhine State and in other parts of the country and the region, the Advisory Commission submitted its final report to national authorities on August 23. The final report of the Advisory Commission chaired by Kofi Annan puts forward recommendations to surmount the political, socio-economic and humanitarian challenges that currently face Rakhine State. It builds on the Commission’s interim report released in March of this year.

“Unless concerted action – led by the government and aided by all sectors of the government and society – is taken soon, we risk the return of another cycle of violence and radicalisation, which will further deepen the chronic poverty that afflicts Rakhine State”, said Kofi Annan, Chair of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

“Without concrete action by the authorities to address long-standing grievances and redress decades of violations, people in the region will continue to be trapped in a cycle of deprivation and abuse,” James Gomez said.

The final report addresses in depth a broad range of structural issues that are impediments to the peace and prosperity of Rakhine State. Several recommendations focus specifically on citizenship verification, rights and equality before the law, documentation, the situation of the internally displaced and freedom of movement, which affect the Muslim population disproportionally.

The report is the outcome of over 150 consultations and meetings held by the Advisory Commission since its launch in September 2016. Commission members have travelled extensively throughout Rakhine State, and held meetings in Yangon and Naypyitaw, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Geneva.

“The Commission has put forward honest and constructive recommendations which we know will create debate,” Commission Chair Kofi Annan said. “However, if adopted and implemented in the spirit in which they were conceived, I firmly believe that our recommendations, along with those of our interim report, can trace a path to lasting peace, development and respect for the rule of law in Rakhine State.”

With the submission of its final report, the Advisory Commission on Rakhine has completed its mandate. However, the Commission’s report recommends a national mechanism be established to ensure the effective implementation of its recommendations.

“We propose a ministerial-level appointment to be made with the sole function of coordinating policy on Rakhine State and ensuring the effective implementation of the Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations,” said Commission Chair Kofi Annan. “The appointee should be supported by a permanent and well-staffed secretariat, which will be an integral part of the Central Committee on Implementation of Peace and Development in Rakhine State and support its work.”

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