The Rakhine Investigation Commission will make their first official visit to Rakhine State later this week for nine days, an official said this week.
“Our main objective is to do a pre-survey to help carry out our tasks,” said commission Secretary Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing.
The team will meet with victims from both communities, residents, government officials and other officials during the trip, he told the Myanmar Times newspaper.
Following the trip, the commission will recruit and train people to collect data that will aid its investigation.
“It is important to get the right data and also to ensure the data you collect is secure,” he said. “We are inviting and choosing young people to participate in this process. We can’t do anything without evidence.”
“We will announce an address soon for those who want to send letters or visit in person,” said Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing.
The commission report will be given to the President’s Office by the end of November.
Soon after the formation of the commission, allegations emerged that some of its members should not have been appointed either because of their alleged involvement in fuelling the conflict or lack of knowledge about Rakhine State.
“We believe that all members are professionals in their respective fields – that’s why the government appointed them to this commission,” said Dr. Kyaw Yin Myint.
88 Generation leader Ko Ko Gyi, also a member of the team, said: “We will cooperate with this team and try to do our best.”
On August 20, Mizzima reported members include Aung Tha Aung of the Arakan League for Democracy, Dr. Aye Maung of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, Ko Ko Gyi, an 88-generation student member, comedian Zarganar, journalist Maung Wun Tha, Khun Tun Oo of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, Than Than Nu of the Democratic Party (Myanmar)], Khin Maung Swe of the National Democratic Force, Aung Naing Oo of the Vahu Development Institute and Tun Aung Chein of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission. The commission also comprises a law expert and a businessperson.
On August 21, a coalition of Rohingya groups said, “We feel this investigation will not be credible and truly independent because although the 27 member commission includes representatives from various religious groups, including Muslims (not Rohingya), Christians, Buddhists and Hindus, as well as political parties and democracy groups, Rohingyas who are [the] systematically targeted victims of that violence are excluded from the list.”
It said some commission members had either directly or indirectly supported the government or have added “fuel on the crisis” in the media.
The Burmese government announced the formation of the commission in response to repeated calls for a credible investigation by international human rights groups and governments after violence claimed up to 89 lives and more than 5,000 homes destroyed in the unrest.