Development, restoring stability high on Govt’s agenda for Rakhine State

Union Minister Win Myat Aye, vice chairman of Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine, at the launch of a report in Nay Pyi Taw Photo-UNDP Myanmar


As the international community continues to pose pressures on Myanmar regarding the Rakhine conflict, the authorities said they wouldprioritiserestoring stability, security and development in that State by working together with different stakeholders and the international community to achieve their ultimate goal.

Union Minister Win Myat Aye, vice chairman of Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine (UEHRD) and chairman of the Committee for Implementation of the Recommendations on Rakhine State, said in a phone interview that promoting dialogues between the two main communities are high on the government’s agenda.

“Our aim is to speed up humanitarian assistance, resettlement and development in Rakhine State by cooperating with all the stakeholders. At UEHRD, we have 10 task forces. All the processes of UEHRD and Implementation Committee are correlated, both with the ultimate goal of zero conflict in this State,” he said.

“Since our Implementation Committee became operational on September 12, 2017, we have been working to accelerate the speed of our implementation process, which will bring tangible benefits to the entire Rakhine State.”

The minister lauded the efforts by the Advisory Board to the Committee for Implementation of the Recommendations on Rakhine State led by former Thai foreign minister SurakiartSathirathai. He said the timing of Surakiart’s final report was perfect.

“They assume that our Implementation Committee is doing very well, as we worked tirelessly over the past 11 months, and they are also satisfied with their report. So, they decided to finalise it. They believe they have covered enough,” he said.

“This is their last contribution as the Advisory Board. But some of the Board members have been cooperating with us. For example, Roelf Meyer continues to actively support discussions to create peace and harmony in this State. Likewise, some members still help us in our cooperation with other Asean members to improve public health. Individually, they are willing to support us in whatever way they can.”

From now on, Myanmar will focus on systematic acceptance of those who flee from Myanmar for several reasons, resettlement of them, development and ensuring conflict-free communities in Rakhine State, the minister said.

“On the repatriation process, we will follow the agreement signed by Myanmar and Bangladesh.  A Bangladesh minister recently visited Myanmar to discuss on how we should cooperate to accept them back. We already have the physical arrangements in place (e.g. how we will verify and accept them). We will systematically do that, e.g. through village plans, township plans, etc,” he said.

Win Mara, chairman of Myanmar National Human Rights Commission who is also a member of the Advisory Board led by Surakiart, said the government has actively undertaken some of the actions they recommended to do.

“For one thing, we urged them to urgently form the Independent Commission of Enquiry as a national initiative, and they followed our recommendation. We believe forming this commission will lead to unbiased, well-balanced findings on what is happening on the ground, rather than groundless, one-sided accusations,” he said.

“On the acceptance of returned refugees, we have urged the government to urgently sign memorandums of understanding with United Nations Development Programme and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Now, both MoUs have been signed.”

The Board urged the government to raise locals’ awareness on the delayto issue national verification cards for the returneesand to ensure equal rights for the returnees with respect to the existing laws. It also urgedto establish mobile clinics and the refurbishment of the Sittwe Hospital in the State and to establish a model township, which sets a good example for both communities living together peacefully and harmoniously.

“Our activities are totally independent_ really free from the interference of other parties. For example, the establishment of the Independent Commission of Enquiry is one of the important recommendations we made very independently,” he said.

“We believe the government will not ignore if there is any human right violation in Rakhine State. If there is clear evidence of such violations, both the government and Tatmadaw (the military) will definitely take actions. But as a sovereign country, we will not allow any one-sided accusations and punishments to any of our citizens.”

Building trust between the two different communities plays an important role in the restoration of peace in Rakhine State and Myanmar still have a long way to go,” saidWin Mara.

Professor Aung TunThet, chief coordinator of UEHRD,said the authorities are fully satisfied with the progress in Rakhine State.“When we work for the welfare of Rakhine State, we always focus on three core values_ respect of human rights, resettlement plans and development,” he said.