The government of Burma has today published an interim report of the Commission established by the President to investigate violence in Rakhine State since October 2016. The findings confirm concerns that the investigation is a farce. It claims that there is ‘insufficient evidence’ of human rights violations such as rape, which have been widely documented, and makes false claims, such as there being ‘no cases of malnutrition’ in Maungdaw and that the Commission had enabled media to ‘freely go and cover news as they wish’.
The interim report, issued after the Commission has had just three meetings and made one field trip, closely follows the propaganda line of the government of Burma and the Burmese military regarding events that have taken place, and also parrots the government line on ‘fabricated’ news and ‘external allegations’.
“This Commission is neither independent as claimed, or credible,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Waiting for the outcome of this Commission must not be used as an excuse by the British government and others for delaying urgent action needed to address the current crisis. The government Commission is a farce, it is time for the UK to support the establishment of a genuinely independent UN Commission of Inquiry to look into the totality of the situation in Rakhine State.”
Since attacks on police border posts in Rakhine State on 9th October, the military and security forces have retaliated with a violent crackdown in areas where ethnic Rohingya live. There are credible reports of hundreds of Rohingya being killed, dozens of rapes of Rohingya women, mass arrests, beatings, burning of villages, and forced relocation by the military and security forces. All of these human rights abuses could meet the criteria of violations of international law. The response of the government and military has been to deny such abuses are happening. Only a genuinely independent UN Inquiry will help establish the truth.
Urgent action is also needed to ensure humanitarian aid access is not just fully restored, but pre-existing restrictions are also lifted. Burma Campaign UK is campaigning for the UN Secretary General to personally take the lead in negotiating aid access, and should go to Burma to negotiate directly with the military and government to let aid in. Burma Campaign UK urges the British government to also support this call.