However, observers have pointed out that the 13-member commission lacks any credibility since it includes no Muslims and is being led by Vice President Myint Swe, a close confidant of former junta leader and dictator Than Shwe. Complaints against the probe increased during the visit of former UN Secretary General and Nobel Laureate Kofi Annan to Yangon, where he spoke with Rakhine and Muslim representatives on December 1.
There is little doubt that the home-grown commission is simply a tool to temporarily quell the backlash that Suu Kyi is facing as a result of her silence and inaction on the Army crackdown in Rakhine, which has resulted in at least 86 deaths and 10,000 Rohingya men, women and children fleeing to Bangladesh. The appointment of Myint Swe as the head of the supposed independent investigative body is suspicious at best, given his close affiliation with an army accused of raping women, killing civilians and torching houses in the Rakhine crackdown. Suu Kyi recently broke her silence on Rakhine, but only to blame the international community for stoking tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in the country and remind us that the military was acting in response to attacks by Muslim insurgents last month. Suu Kyi’s statements not only ignore the power dynamics at play – the army versus the stateless Rohingya – and decades of persecution of the minority, but also the government’s continued refusal to acknowledge any blame in this decades-old crisis. These diversionary tactics that detract attention from the gross rights abuses of the Rohingya must come to an end.
For any new probe body to have a semblance of legitimacy and impartiality, representatives of the Rohingya must be included. Criticism and outrage of the Myanmar government’s handling of the issue cannot be addressed in any serious way if the “investigative” body does not feature a single, legitimate spokesperson of the Rohingya. Suu Kyi – a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and a pro-democracy hero – and her government can and must do better to protect the integrity of any investigation into the latest bout of violence against the Rohingya. The ongoing rights abuses against the Rohingya are well-documented and there is growing sympathy for their plight in the global arena. Any insincere, deceptive and/or unworkable measure taken by Suu Kyi’s government will not go unnoticed.
Published : December 05, 2016
By : Nahela Nowshin The Daily Star Asia News Network