Dr. Hla Kyaw, The Stateless Rohingya (TSR) Article
Rakhine advisory commission on Rakhine State led by former UN secretary general Mr. Kofi Annan is visiting Rakhine state including Maungdaw district as well as Myebon and Mrauk-U townships. According to Daw Saw Khin Tint, a member of the commission, the commission plans to observe the area where humanitarian catastrophe has been unfolding since October 9 and to listen to the residents affected.
Now, the question is: Does the commission can effectively observe the area where thousands of Rohingya have been displaced, hundreds Rohingya women were raped, and hundreds of Rohingya houses have been torched to the ground? Does the commission could have chance to listen to the Rohingya people?
To answer those questions, we need to look back into the past. Successive Myanmar governments including Aung San Suu Kyi led current government have been professionally covering up all kinds of crimes committed by the Myanmar armed forces against Rohingya. There have been many visits by the diplomats, as well as by many commissions formed after every renewed attack against Rohingya. Nothing has been changed in the lives of Rohingya except further intensification of summary execution, rape, arrest and indiscriminate shooting until this last phase of annihilation.
In the first week of November, senior diplomats from the United States, China, Britain and the European Union visited to Northern Rakhine state where Myanmar armed forces have been committing the crimes against humanity. With the hope that unbearable suffering could be relieved, many Rohingya risked their lives to meet the diplomats to reveal their horrifying stories of rapes and torture by the armed forces.
The government authorities tried to silent the Rohingya by threatening with arrest and torture. At the end, some Rohingya managed to meet the diplomats to report the crimes of the armed forces. During the conversation between Rohingya victims and the diplomats, the armed forces took the pictures of the Rohingya. As soon as the diplomats left the area, the Myanmar armed forces started arresting those Rohingya who confessed the brutalities of the Myanmar armed forces to the diplomats. These types of scenarios have been taking place after every visit by the diplomats, or commissions.
While the commission is on the way to observe and listen to the Rohingya victims, many Rohingya fears of the arrest and torture after the commission leave the area. Meanwhile, Myanmar government authority is carefully planning to deceit, lie and cover up all the crimes they have been committing.
For the commission to get a real picture of the crimes committed by Myanmar armed forces, there must have protections for those Rohingya who are going to meet the commission and reveal the crimes of the government. In addition, the commission needs to visit every area in northern Maungdaw, where rapes of more than 270 Rohingya women took place; where 450 plus Rohingya were killed; where more than 2000 houses were burnt down; and where more than 45000 Rohingya were displaced.
It is more likely that the government of Myanmar would not let the commission find and reveal the crimes they have been committing since October 9. Such visits of diplomats or commission would be the hypnotics to the international outrage, and the visit would not help relieved the nightmares of Rohingya rather exacerbate the situation. Therefore, UN-led intervention will be the only viable solution in Rohingya situation.