Myanmar continues its efforts at putting Rakhine State back on the road to development and stability while still facing terrorism, funded and inspired from abroad.
In Rakhine, the country’s efforts to bring peace and development were on track until August 2017, when violence was triggered by the attacks on security forces by terrorists.
The terrorist attacks and the mass displacement of people changed the situation and negatively affected the perception and attitude of the international community on the situation in Myanmar.
To effectively carry out resettlement and rehabilitation and to develop Rakhine State, the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine (UEHRD), led by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, was formed.
There have been many accusations that there is ethnic cleansing or even genocide in Myanmar. There were tensions and there was fighting in Rakhine State, but there was no genocide.
The term genocide should not be used in Myanmar, nor in other countries, without clear evidence.
The Government has initiated a number of programmes to find a sustainable solution to the issues in Rakhine. We are currently implementing the recommendations of the Annan Commission. A Ministerial-level implementation committee and an Advisory Board, made up of eminent personalities from home and abroad, have been set up to help us find lasting solutions.
Following the agreement reached between Myanmar and Bangladesh, we have made preparations for the repatriation of the displaced persons.
We have strengthened our border guard police capacity to ensure the safety of the returnees as well as all communities – Rakhine, Muslim, Daingnet, Mro, Thet, Maramagyi and Hindu. They are all victims of violence and terrorism. Security needs to be ensured for all.
But, international media has portrayed the mass displacement as happening because of persecution.
Recently, officials asked those fleeing their homes why they wanted to cross over to Bangladesh. They also asked what difficulties they were currently facing and their needs and requirements.
Officials discovered that initially a total of 666 residents from 15 villages in Buthidaung and two villages in Yathedaung had taken up temporary shelter in the border area.
They claimed that scarcity of jobs, food, and threats from the terrorist organization of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) were the reasons for crossing over to Bangladesh.
Seeing through a narrow lens of human rights of one particular community alone is not helpful to understand the challenges in Rakhine State.
We are ready to continue to work with the international community.
At the same time, we earnestly hope that the international community would pursue a more objective and balanced approach to help overcome the challenges in Rakhine.