Burma: Govt Investigation Commission Concludes First Trip to Arakan State


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RANGOON — A government commission examining a series of militant attacks and human rights violations by security forces in northern Arakan State wrapped up their first investigation trip to the area on Tuesday.

The Arakan State Investigation Commission, led by Burma’s military-appointed vice president U Myint Swe, toured villages in Maungdaw Township on Sunday. They visited the police outposts that were attacked by militants on Oct. 9 and Muslim villages where rights groups have reported that abuses including rape, extrajudicial killings and arson were committed by government troops.

The 13-member commission was formed in earlier this month by Burma’s President U Htin Kyaw to look into the causes of attacks on police in Maungdaw Township, to investigate outside allegations of crimes committed during area clearance operations, as well as to document deaths, injuries, destruction and other damage.

On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said the commission’s composition and mandate raised serious doubts that it would conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the alleged abuses, including those of murder and sexual violence. The organization added that since October 9, 2016, at least 1,500 buildings had been destroyed, driving thousands of ethnic Rohingya from their homes in northern Arakan State.

State-run newspapers reported that as of Monday, the commission’s delegation had visited at least eight such villages, interviewing locals and carrying out on-the-ground inspections.

Commission member Dr. Aung Tun Thet told state-run newspapers that they would try to submit a report that would be acceptable to both local and international parties.

“We learned that Muslim villagers there were in fear. The commission will expose the truth based on our findings,” he said.

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