MOFA issues press release, 9 February 2017

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release yesterday regarding the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report titled “Interviews with Rohingyas fleeing from Myanmar since 9 October 2016” based on a report written by its delegation, which visited Bangladesh from 8 to 23 January. The following is the full text of the report.

Press Release

1. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report entitled “Interviews with Rohingyas fleeing from Myanmar since 9 October 2016” on 3 February 2017. The Government of Myanmar considers the allegations contained in the report very serious in nature and is also deeply concerned about the report. Thus, the Government is investigating these allegations through the investigation commission led by Vice-President U Myint Swe. As State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi made it clear in her telephone conversation with OHCHR High Commissioner Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on 3rd February, where there is clear evidence of abuses and violations, the Government will take necessary measures.

Background to the situation in Rakhine State

2. The Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar places high priority on addressing the situation in Rakhine State, and is striving to find a durable solution.

3. The Government is taking a comprehensive approach with the aim of fostering peace and stability in the State. It has adopted short and long term programmes to promote understanding and trust. The Government has formed the Central Committee on Implementation of Peace, Stability and Development of Rakhine State on 30th May 2016 with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as Chairperson. Four working committees have been set up to facilitate the work of the Central Committee.

4. The Government of Myanmar has also established the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, chaired by Dr. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, to support the Government’s efforts in addressing the issue comprehensively. Prior to issuing its final report in second half of 2017, the Commission will be submitting its interim report to the Government of Myanmar.

5. Even as constructive steps were being undertaken, three police border outposts in northern Rakhine State were attacked by armed men funded and inspired from abroad on 9 October 2016. As the International Crisis Group (ICG) noted in their recent report, the attack seriously threatens the prospects of stability and development in the state. In these circumstances, the Government is taking steps to ensure the safety and security of its people. The Myanmar security forces have been instructed to act within the parameters of rule of law in compliance with human rights refraining from use of excessive force. The Government will spare no effort to take legal action against any perpetrators if there is clear evidence of human rights abuses.

6. On 1 December 2016, an investigation commission led by Vice President U Myint Swe was formed to look into the causes of 9 October and 12-13 November attacks and their consequences. The mandate of the Commission which inheres the guarantee of security and human rights for all the people of Rakhine, requires it to verify all allegations including those related to area clearance operations. The Commission was tasked to submit a report on 31 January 2017. However, the submission date has been extended so that a thorough report could be prepared after necessary investigations. Myanmar also facilitated the visits of Ambassadors, media and international experts including Ms. Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur of the situation of human rights in Myanmar, to the affected areas in Rakhine State. International aid organizations are resuming humanitarian aid to many affected areas in Rakhine.

7. Since the new Government took office, promotion and protection of human rights has been high on its agenda. The work of the National Investigation Commission with regard to all allegations will continue and action will be taken against the perpetrators of illegal acts and human rights violations. The Government of Myanmar stands firm in its commitment to national reconciliation and peace throughout the country.