Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Ambassador U Hau Do Suan delivers rebuttal Statements on the reports of Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar and the Independent International Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar
Nay Pyi Taw, 25 October
The Third Committee of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly held two special procedure sessions on Myanmar at the UN Headquarters in New York, the United States on 23 October 2018. During the sessions, Ms. Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar and Mr. Marzuki Darusman, Chairperson of the Independent International Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar made presentation on their reports respectively. Ambassador U Hau Do Suan, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations delivered rebuttal statements in response to their briefings.
In response to the Special Rapporteur’s remarks, Permanent Representative Ambassador U Hau Do Suan explained that Myanmar persistently opposes country specific mandates which run contrary to the principles of non-selectivity and non-politicization in addressing human rights and has all along extended cooperation to the successive special rapporteurs on Myanmar in line with Myanmar’s policy to cooperate with the UN. Although Myanmar hoped that an independent Special Rapporteur would come up with a balanced report, the Special Rapporteur continues her negative and unconstructive criticisms and allegations based on unverified information, neglecting the government’s relentless efforts to bringing national reconciliation and peace, rule of law, and sustainable development for the people of Myanmar. The Government wonders whether or not the Special Rapporteur has the genuine desire to help solve the problems.
He added that Myanmar had extended its full cooperation to Prof. Lee, allowing her visits to Myanmar 6 times since her assumption of the post in 2014 until December 2017. However, she had gone far beyond her mandate resulting in public resentment against her. The Government, therefore, had no choice, but to have suspended cooperation with her, requesting the UN for replacement of the Special Rapporteur.
The Permanent Representative stressed that in demonstration of its continuing desire to cooperate with the United Nations, Myanmar welcomed the appointment of Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Ms. Christine Schraner Burgener and has already given its consent to opening of her office in Nay Pyi Taw during her first visit to Myanmar. The Government has also facilitated her third visit to Myanmar from 10-20 October, in a period of 5 months since she took up her position in May 2018. In her end of mission statement on 20 October, the Special Envoy highlighted accountability and inclusive dialogue as the two important pillars for national reconciliation in Myanmar. She said ultimately, only peace and genuine political dialogue can address these problems. She stressed the need for patience and more trust building, and offered herself to help advance the peace process toward a “home grown solution”. Myanmar welcomes the statement and fully concurs with her that to find a sustainable answer to the deep rooted, multi-faceted problems of Myanmar, there is no quick fix and require patience, mutual trust and political solution. Forced imposition of external political agenda will only impact negatively on the current complex situation and affect democratic transition process. The Government is also working closely with the United Nations on issues of concerns relating to human rights, particularly with the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and for Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Permanent Representative Ambassador U Hau Do Suan highlighted that the democratic government of Myanmar is convinced that lasting peace will be possible only when a democratic federal union is established by political means and ending of ethnic strife and armed conflicts is essential to realize this objective. The government is, therefore, holding the Union Peace Conferences-21st Century Panglong to reach agreement on the fundamental principles for a democratic federal union. The three sessions of the Peace Conference held so far have adopted fifty-one fundamental principles which will become part of the Union Peace Accord.
Addressing the issues in Rakhine State is fundamental part of building peace, national reconciliation, security and governance in Myanmar. The Government of Myanmar is now undertaking with high priority, preparation of necessary conducive conditions for the safe, voluntary and dignified repatriation of the people who had fled to Bangladesh. In accord with the bilateral agreements and arrangements with Bangladesh, Myanmar has been ready to receive the first batch of verified returnees since January this year. We welcome recent statement made by Bangladesh Foreign Minister Ali that Bangladesh will repatriate the first batch of 6000 displaced persons in the near future.
During the high level week of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, an informal meeting was held among China, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Secretary-General was invited and present at the meeting. The meeting reached a three-point consensus on resolving the issue of displaced persons. As a result of the consensus, the third meeting of the Joint Working Group will be held on 29-30 October in Dhaka.
The Permanent Representative said that the Government highly appreciates the assistance and cooperation rendered by our fellow ASEAN countries and other neighbouring countries including China, India and Japan for the resettlement and rehabilitation of the returnees. Myanmar has been continuing its close cooperation with the UN and also has been implementing 81 out of 88 recommendations submitted by the Advisory Commission. Regarding the accountability in Rakhine, the Government of Myanmar has established an Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) and the Commission will submit its report within a year. In Rakhine State, hundreds of new jobs and opportunities have been created for local people through public-private partnerships in recent years.
The Permanent Representative emphasized that the greatest strength of a democratic transition is the unity, determination and active participation of the people under the leadership of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The international community can best assist Myanmar in realizing its democratic nation building by rendering constructive contribution towards Myanmar’s endeavours based on understanding and mutual respect.
In response to the briefing made by the Chairperson of the Independent International Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar, Permanent Representative Ambassador U Hau Do Suan explained that when the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Myanmar was established by the Human Rights Council in March 2017, Myanmar had objected the Mission because of its serious concerns particularly about the advisability of its establishment and the mandate of the Mission. We are also concerned that release of the report based on narratives and not on hard evidence will only serve to inflame tensions further and potentially hinder the Government’s efforts to create much needed social cohesion in Rakhine State. The sincerity of the FFM is also questionable. The methodology of its investigation is also flawed.
The Permanent Representative stressed that the Government has repeatedly explained the fact that the current humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State was ignited by the unprovoked and premeditated attacks against 30 police outposts and a military battalion headquarters by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) terrorist group in August 2017. The ARSA terrorists had massacred security personnel and hundreds of innocent civilians including a hundred of Hindu villagers, other ethnic minorities and pro-government Muslims. The atrocities perpetrated by ARSA had made thousands of innocent ethnic population fled their villages to the other parts of Rakhine State. Likewise, it created a massive exodus of Muslims to the neighbouring country. It is crucial to bear in mind that the present crisis affected not only the Muslim community.
When we talk about human rights, we should look at human rights of both communities. We are dismayed by the fact that the Mission has deliberately and glaringly discounted ARSA terrorist atrocities which could even be interpreted by many as justifying or condoning the act of Muslim extremist terrorists.
The Permanent Representative has reiterated the Government’s strong commitment to accountability for human rights violations in Rakhine or in any other place in the country. The Government will take action against any perpetrators where there is sufficient evidence.
In this regard, the Government has established an Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE). The Commission will conduct its mandate in the principles of independence, impartiality and objectivity, and will submit its report within a year. In fact, legal actions had been taken against military and police officers and civilians who were found to be in breach of standard operating procedures and rules of engagement following the Inn Din incident.
The Government of Myanmar has resolutely rejected the ICC’s ruling of 6 September 2018 in connection with Rakhine State. Myanmar is not a party to the Rome Statute and the Court has no jurisdiction over Myanmar whatsoever. All countries should be concerned by the recent decision of the International Criminal Court and the various precedents that the Court may be setting by this recent ruling as well as by the way in which it was made. This is a stark warning to all countries particularly to the developing ones.
The Myanmar delegation has categorically rejected inference of “genocidal intent” on the legitimate counter terrorist actions by the security forces in Rakhine. The conclusion is made on unverified circumstantial evidences which has no sound legal proof. Putting accountability above all else without regard to other positive developments is a dangerous attempt that will face utter failure. The present reports of the FFM and the Special Rapporteur are not contributing to building peace, harmony, national reconciliation and development in Rakhine State.
The Permanent Representative pointed out that Mr. Marzuki has said “Patience will not help Myanmar’s democratization, it will only help those that seek to derail it”. But, the opposite is true. It is not by revolution that we are building democracy. Our leader State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has chosen a peaceful path through national reconciliation and national consensus which requires tremendous patience and political wisdom.
Special Envoy Ms. Christine Schraner Burgener has also stressed the need for patience and more trust building, and the Government concurs fully with the Special Envoy. This is the way to lead us to realizing our ultimate national goal of building a truly democratic federal union, according to the statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.