The commission also met with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi along with senior government and military officials
The independent commission set up by the Myanmar government to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in northern Rakhine state has made its first visit to the conflict area to meet with residents, Myanmar Times reported.
The commission’s chief, former deputy foreign secretary of Philippines Rosario Manalo, led the team on the visit to Maungdaw town in northern Rakhine last week, where it inspected several communities and villages.
Maungdaw is one of the three townships that were badly damaged after attacks on government outposts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) last year prompted a brutal military crackdown. The military crackdown ostensibly on Rohingya militants pushed out some 700,000 of the minority in violence that horrified the world.
‘’This second meeting of the Independent Commission of Enquiry was very productive and allowed for more substantive discussions to take place,” said the commission in a statement.
It said the field visits provided them with the opportunity to have a better understanding of the situation on the ground and to hear the voices of the different communities.
U Chit Myo Oo, a Maungdaw district administrative official, said the commission went to Nga Khu Ya, Shwe Zar and the administrative office in Maungdaw. He said the commissioners met with Muslims, Hindus and Rakhines, who were survivors and victims of the violence.
“The commission asked us about the cause of the violence and about the returnee families,” U Chit Myo Oo said.
The commission also met with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi along with senior government and military officials.
On August 28, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for Myanmar to be held accountable for the horrendous persecution of Muslims in the military crackdown and said Suu Kyi’s should have resigned as Myanmar’s de facto leader over last year’s brutal counterinsurgency campaign.
Other members of the government’s independent commission led by Manalo are Kenzo Oshima, Japan’s permanent representative to the UN and former UN undersecretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs; U Mya Thein, former chair of the Constitutional Tribunal of Myanmar; and U Aung Tun Thet, former senior official of Unicef and former principal officer of the UN System Staff College.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said the independent commission faces a very difficult credibility challenge and is not helping itself by failing to release detailed terms of reference on the scope of its work and how it plans to carry it out.