Mon 27 Aug 2012
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
MEMBERS of an investigation commission established to probe the Rakhine State conflict said last week they were unsure whether they could complete the task within the allotted three months.
“We will have to work very hard to complete the tasks we’ve been set successfully. It’s a difficult case and we have to do many things but [the government] has given us the right to do our job freely,” said U Khin Maung Swe, chairman of the National Democratic Force and a member of the commission.
The President’s Office announced the formation of the 27-member investigation commission on August 17 and said its job would be to expose the real cause of the incidents that occurred in Rakhine State in May and June. It is also supposed to make suggestions “for the national interest”.
Dr Myo Myint, a retired director general from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, was appointed chairman of the commission, while other members are drawn from religious groups, political parties, civil society organisations and the media sector.
The President’s Office and Rakhine State government will make arrangements to meet the security and administrative needs of the commission, the announcement said.
The commission has been granted the right to probe the incident in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act and has the power to summon witnesses, view documents and visit relevant places during the course of its investigation.
Its report has to be submitted directly to the president by November.
“We will have to be careful in every action we take,” said committee member U Kyaw Khin, general secretary of the Myanmar Muslims National League. “It is difficult to say whether we can complete the job on time … we’ll ask for more time if necessary depending on how it goes.”
The commission held its first meeting on August 20 at Myanmar Egress but is yet to really get down to work, members said.
“[We didn’t do] anything special, just introduced each other and discussed how we will go about it. We have a draft plan to organise eight committees under this commission to focus on the eight categories mentioned in the original statement,” said U Khin Maung Swe.
88 Generation leader U Ko Ko Gyi said his organisation would provide data from its three trips to Rakhine State to the commission.
“We’ll conduct our tasks from a humanitarian and citizenship point of view and also focus on regional development issues,” said the activist, who is also a member of the commission.
The new commission has broader powers than an earlier investigation committee, which was formed on June 6 with union and region government officials and was instructed to report to the president by June 30.
“I think this commission will be free to investigate the conflict … it will look more broadly than the previous committee. We’ll discuss in more detail soon and try to do our best,” U Ko Ko Gyi said.
In a statement issued the day of its formation, the United Nations Secretary General said he welcomed the commission’s establishment.
“This commission is comprised of a representative cross-section of national figures in the country. It could make important contributions to restoring peace and harmony in the state and in creating a conducive environment for a more inclusive way forward to tackle the underlying causes of the violence, including the condition of the Muslim communities in Rakhine. This will be integral to any reconciliation process,” the statement said.
On August 21, Union Minister for Border Affairs Major General Thein Htay met commission members at the Yangon Region government office.
“He told us to do our tasks freely and said [the government] is ready to help us while we are doing our duty,” U Kyaw Khin said.