World Bulletin / News Desk
A commission tasked with finding solutions to stop ongoing violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in troubled Rakhine State is to present an interim report to the country's government in February.
Although the full report is not expected to be completed until later in 2017, commission member Khin Saw Tint told Anadolu Agency on Monday that given the urgency of the situation an interim report would be submitted to State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw soon.
“As some measures should be taken urgently, he [Commission leader Kofi Annan] has asked us to prepare an interim report,” she said by phone.
She refused to be drawn, however, on what the commission has learnt from its three-day visit to the trouble region, where anywhere between 74 and 400 Rohingya have died.
“As an advisory commission, we will just give advices for the benefits of all communities in the area,” she said.
“We will not make any judgment or decision.”
On Monday, former United Nations chief Annan and commission members met up with Htin Kyaw, Suu Kyi and military chief Min Aung Hlaing in the political capital Nay Pyi Taw.
The commission’s visit to Rakhine came on the back of Oct. 9 attacks, during which nine police officers were killed by armed individuals near the Bangladesh border.
Since the deaths, soldiers have been accused of numerous human rights violations -- including sexual assaults -- in the area as they conduct clearance operations to find those responsible.
Rohingya advocacy groups claim around 400 Rohingya were subsequently killed in the military operations in the north of the state, while Myanmar says just 91 -- 17 soldiers and 74 alleged "attackers" (including four who reportedly died during interrogation) -- have been killed.
In response to growing concerns from the international community, the president's office announced Friday the formation of a 13-member investigation commission tasked with probing the background to the Oct. 9 attacks and also Nov. 12-13 incidents in Maungdaw in which over a thousand Rohingya houses were destroyed, villagers were killed and human rights groups have alleged Rohingya were raped by soldiers.
It is to "investigate whether existing laws, rules and regulations were observed in taking measures to avoid similar incidents in the future before making recommendations", a statement from the president's office says.
"The investigation commission shall find out the truth for the following incidents and make recommendations and advice for stability of the area," it adds.
Although the probe is being carried out at the behest of the international community, it has been criticized by activists for a lack of credibility as it is chaired by Myanmar Vice President Myint Swe -- a former army general responsible for a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in 2007 that became known as the Saffron Revolution.
The London-based Burmese Rohingya Organization claims the Commission is too little too late.
Chairman Tun Khin says that at least 400 Rohingya were killed and at least 600 detained by the military, while some 240 women were raped since the Oct. 9 attacks.
“And only now they say they will investigate who is responsible,” he underlined.
“Who can believe that after all this they will say they got it wrong?”