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Myanmar’s Investigation Commissions: Tactic to Conceal Rohingya Genocide

By M.S. Anwar | Opinion & Analysis

The Burmese (Myanmar) quasi-civilian government unleashed a large-scale violence against the minority Rohingya in the western Myanmar state of Arakan in 2012. The violence, which some wrongly frame as ‘Communal’, was carried out by the Burmese armed forces along with Rakhine Buddhist extremist elements. The violence continued throughout the year and partially destroyed the localities of Rohingya community across the state, killing thousands and displacing more than 140,000. Many women were raped and gang-raped, untold atrocities were committed.

Consequently, the Burmese regime was internationally condemned for violence against Rohingya and international pressure increased on them to allow ‘International Investigation Teams’ to investigate into the crimes in Arakan. However, the Burmese government formed its own Investigation Commission with its own (bunch of racist) people to investigate into the crimes committed by its own armed forces. The first 'Rakhine Investigation Commission' was formed by Thein Sein, the ex-President of Myanmar and ex-military General, on 17th August 2012. 

As expected, the commission came out with a report shifting blames on the victims and everyone else except for the real culprits, the Burmese armed forces. The report was a total cover-up of the crimes committed by the armed forces.

Since then, the Burmese government has formed its own inquiry commission every time there was a demand to allow an ‘International Investigation Team’ as aftermath of a round of violence. The report that every Burmese inquiry commission came up with was expectedly white-washing of the crimes of the Genocide and the Crimes against Humanity. 

No improvements were made
in any aspect of the lives of Rohingya. The displaced people in Akyab, Pauktaw and other parts of Arakan still remain displaced. Rather, the Burmese has severed many aspects of Rohingyas' lives and persecuted them even more.

Inaction by the United Nations and; and the US, EU and ASEAN etc, who prefer to have diplomatic and economic ties with Burma over ending Genocidal violence against Rohingya; has led some desperate young Rohingyas to take desperate measures against the State Armed Forces. A group of ill-trained and poorly armed Rohingya rebels, who later came to know as ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army), launched attacks on security posts of the Burmese armed forces, especially the Border Guard Police (BGP), in Maungdaw district and Rathedaung Township twice, on October 9, 2016 and August 25, 2017 respectively. All hell broke loose for the Rohingya once again.

The Burmese armed forces used these attacks as perfect pretexts to collectively destroy the Rohingya community by carrying out arson attacks on the Rohingya homes and driving them out from their lands. Since October 9, 2016, approximately 10,000 Rohingya villagers were summarily executed and untold numbers of women were raped by the Burmese armed forces. More than 350 villages across Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung were burnt down, that are now being bulldozed to eradicate the Rohingya history. The genocidal destruction of the people has forced almost 700,000 people to flee to Bangladesh, triggering one of the man-made humanitarian disasters in history.

So, since the violence began in June 2012, the Burmese regime has formed following Inquiry Commissions with their own men, and successfully managed to reject all the international calls to allow ‘International Investigation Teams’.
1) The Rakhine Investigation Commission (formed on 17th August 2012)
2) Duchiradan Investigation Commission (formed on 6th February 2014)
3) Investigation Commission on Rakhine (formed on 1st December 2016, after October 9, 2016 violence)
4) Committee for Implementation of the Recommendations on Rakhine State (formed on 9th October 2017)

None of these government’s investigation teams has found any member of armed force guilty despite a mountain of evidences of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity by the members of the armed forces.

In short, formation of 'Investigation Commissions' is a TIME-BUYING tactic by the Burmese government and a distraction from the unfolding Genocide. In this regard, the Burmese government now led by Aung San Suu Kyi has also formed following Commissions comprising some well-known international figures.
1) Kofi Annan's Advisory Commission on Rakhine State (formed on 24th August 2016)
2) Advisory Board for the “Committee for Implementation of the Recommendations on Rakhine State” (14th December 2017)

However, these commissions, too, have so far proven to be playing on behalf of the Burmese government and military to rebuild their image on the international stage and have become hindrances to making any real progress in the crisis or international calls to punish the Burmese military for committing Genocide and Crimes against Humanity. In fact, the Burmese Presidential Spokesperson Zaw Htay openly said 'Kofi Annan Commission is a Shield for the Government.

And this is the tactic used by the Burmese government to frustrate international community to eventually give up their calls for 'Independent Investigations' and to end Genocide. This is just one of many methods that military frequently uses to distract us from Genocide and Crimes against Humanity. There many more methods such as 'Victim-Blaming and Blaming Everyone Else for the Culprits' they use to downplay Genocide, which will be discussed later.

The cycle of violence against Rohingya has been going since 1951 and will continue until they are completely destroyed in Myanmar. For Army Chief Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, Rohingya is an 'Unfinished Business from WW2'. Now, it's up to the world communities if they collectively act to stop the Genocide or not.

[Note: 1) The Burmese armed forces mostly act upon the commands from the highest level of the Command Chain and so to say that the Burmese generals at the top must be held accountable for most of the atrocities committed by the armed forces on the ground.
2) Some words used in the article: Burma = Myanmar, Burmese = Bama (the majority Buddhist population in the country), Burmese armed forces = Burmese military, Hluntein (paramilitary), BGP (Border Guard Police) and Nasaka (the former Border Security Force)]

M.S. Anwar is an activist and journalist born and brought up in Arakan, Burma. He can be reached at:

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