Arakan commission gets ‘indefinite extension’ of reporting deadline

Arakan commission gets ‘indefinite extension’ of reporting deadline

The commission charged with investigating the 9 October attacks on border police outposts in northern Arakan State and subsequent allegations of grave human rights abuses perpetrated by security forces in the crackdown that followed has been granted an “indefinite extension” to its reporting deadline, according to Tuesday’s state-run Global New Light of Myanmar.

“New allegations on human rights have arisen in Rakhine [Arakan] State, and the period for submitting the investigation report to the president is extended until the end of the probe into the new allegations,” read a statement reportedly issued by the commission through the President’s Office.

It did not specify the nature of the “new allegations,” which have pushed back an initial 31 January deadline for the commission to submit its findings to the president.

The 11-member commission, chaired by Vice President Myint Swe, was formed on 1 December and made one field visit to northern Arakan State later that month. Its interim report, released on 3 January, did not find evidence to substantiate the rights abuse claims, which have included accusations of rape, torture and extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by security forces against the region’s Rohingya Muslims. The interim report was panned by some human rights groups as a “whitewash” not reflective of the reality on the ground.

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The government has repeatedly denied the reports of abuses, but acknowledges that scores of people — its accounts typically describing them as “violent armed attackers” — have been killed in the security sweep, and hundreds more detained for suspected involvement in the 9 October assault.

In the investigative commission’s preliminary report, the 9 October attackers were identified as belonging to a militant group called Aqa Mul Mujahidin. A separate report from the International Crisis Group released in December, however, said the militants were members of Harakah al-Yaqin, or “Faith Movement.” Both groups were described as espousing violence inspired by radical Islam.

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