Committee conducts field visit in Rakhine State
By Nyan Lynn Aung
The Myanmar Times
June 3, 2016
June 3, 2016
A New Union-level committee established for Rakhine State began groundwork on June 1 when it visited IDP camps and held a meeting with community leaders.
Six out of 27 members on the Rakhine State Peace, Stability and Development Committee visited displacement camps in Myebon township and Sittwe. They also met with local residents.
The delegation included Chief Minister U Nyi Pu, Minister for the State Counsellor’s Office U Kyaw Tint Swe, the deputy minister for border affairs, and the ministers for labour, immigration and population, and social welfare, relief and resettlement.
According to the residents who attended a meeting with the committee, the high-ranking officials promised development and funds for the state but refrained from sharing detailed agendas. They did not address questions about how the committee plans to create stability in the state.
U Aung Htay, a leader of the Rakhine
State Youth Network, said he did not understand why the committee was needed, as the state had its own government to deal with such issues.
“It is a monopolisation of power and it seems to undermine the capabilities of the state government,” he said.
The youth leader was apprehensive about welcoming a promised K70 billion budget for development in Rakhine and the establishment of a migrant resource centre, fearing it would be used to help people whom he referred to as “illegal immigrants”. The centres are reportedly being opened to help workers, including the large number of Rakhine migrant labourers.
According to the Rakhine State information department, the committee members visited Kyaukphyu township yesterday and met with both Muslim and Buddhist communities.
“The committee went to IDP camps to observe the real situation and they have a plan to try for a national verification process,” said an official of the Rakhine State information department who asked not to be named.
Daw Aye Nu Sein, vice chair of the Arakan National Party, said the labour and immigration minister explained the national verification process. She added that it could help development of the state, provided it is conducted in accordance with the 1982 citizenship law. The main issue, she said, was to verify the citizenship status of Muslims who self-identify as Rohingya.
“If we can do that, it may reduce international pressure and improve state stability,” she said.
Ma Wai Wai Nu, a rights activist, said it remains to be seen how the committee will approach its difficult tasks.
“I think development without restoring basic rights for the Rohingya will be a recipe for apartheid. Any development plans that don’t include restoring fundamental rights of livelihood, movement, healthcare, and citizenship to the Rohingya will only harden divisions in Rakhine [State],” she said.
According to an official from the State Counsellor’s Office, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had previously held a long meeting with the Rakhine State chief minister and various ministers on how to handle the situation in Rakhine State.