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Arakan commission completes ‘fact-finding’ tour

The government-mandated commission tasked with investigating this summer’s rioting in Arakan state wrapped up its tour of western Burma on Saturday.

The commission led by Dr Myo Myint and Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing travelled to Arakan state’s Sittwe, Kyauktaw, Yathetaung, Maungdaw, Butheedaung, Taunggup and Ramee townships from 7 to 15 September.

Commission member and 88 Generation Students’ leader  Ko Ko Gyi said the group observed the damage inflicted by the rioting in the area and had extensive meetings with refugees, university lecturers, monks, local influential figures and NGOs.

“We went to places and talked with several people we wanted to meet and we were constantly collecting facts and making inquiries,” said Ko Ko Gyi. “I see that this is one of those matters [where] we need to keep our heads as cool as we can and find a long-term solution. It is important for all groups to find an answer together through discussions and negotiations.”

National Democratic Force chair and commission member Khin Maung Swe said it might take a while before the situation improves in the region.

“There’s still quite a way to go – in order to bring the situation back to normal, tranquillity must be sought first. Right now, people are still in refugee camps and it might take a while before trade goes back to normal,” said Khin Maung Swe.

President Thein Sein formed the 27-member commission on 17 August. The group was originally set to present its findings at a press conference today; however, the report’s release has been postponed  and will likely be presented in the next few months.

Decades of tension between Arakanese Buddhist and Rohingya Muslims erupted this summer as rioting unfolded across Arakan state – leaving dozens dead and displacing tens of thousands.

Rohingyas are viewed as “illegal Bengali immigrants” by many Burmese and denied basic rights by the government.


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