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Border minister: Understanding needed for govt handling on Rakhine issue

December 10, 2012


SOURCE CREDIT EMG    10.12 2012    The international community should show understanding and tolerate the step-by-step process of the Myanmar government in tackling problems in Rakhine state, Lt-General Thein Htay, Minister for Border Affairs, said on Saturday.

“Negotiation is essential in solving the problems during the period of ‘globalisation’. We must carry out both ‘inter-dialogue’ and ‘intra-dialogue’. In this circumstance, we would like to make a request to the international community through the diplomats to understand the real situation of our country,” said the minister during a press briefing on the situation in Rakhine state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Yangon.

“Due to the communal violence in the western Myanmar state, the number of IDPs [internally displaced persons] has reached 190,000, and the root cause of this unrest was ‘underdevelopment of the region’. The government has no reason to hide the real situation, and it expects aid from international donor countries.

“We have said frequently that the problem in Rakhine state is a ‘communal conflict’. We need to remove ‘mistrust’ and ‘misunderstanding’ spreading among the people in this area,” said Thein Htay.

He also said that some foreign media are exaggerating the problem by saying the Myanmar government is committing ‘genocide’ in Rakhine state. However, the Bengalis who numbered about 250,000 in 1980 have increased to 1 million in 2012.
Regarding the possible airing of a programme on the Rakhine issue by al-Jazeera TV, the minister said that all Bengalis or all Rakhine people do not commit the violence. The crisis is only between the mobs from both communities. Whenever such a problem occurs, they use the media for ‘political inspiration’. The government will respond to this problem only if it is necessary to do so.

Police chief Kyaw Kyaw Tun said at the event that the Myanmar Police Force is still investigating the evidence on alleged incitement to violence by some organisations. They will reveal the findings to the public.

Khin Ye, Minister for Immigration and Population, said that it is necessary for citizen Bengalis to report before travelling because authorities cannot easily identify them as Myanmar is located between two large countries with 1.2 billion and 1.3 billion population, and beside a country with four times more population than Myanmar despite having only one-third the area of Myanmar.

“Giving citizenship and being a citizen is related to the sovereignty of a country. Therefore, those who cannot be easily identified in appearance as our citizen will need permission for travelling in the country,”’ he said.

The Ministry for Border Affairs said that the number of deaths in Rakhine State in June was 89 and in October 111, while the number of injured persons in June was 124 and in October 431. The number of houses damaged in June was 5,338 and in October 5,351.

The number of high-level persons’ trip to Rakhine state was 18 times from early June to December 4.


Exaggerating Rakhine conflict as a “genocide” is totally contrary to the truth

Mon, 12/10/2012 – 09:29

Nay Pyi Taw, 8 Dec

Vice-President Dr Sai Mauk Kham, accompanied by  General Hla Htay Win of the office of the Commander in-Chief (Army), Union Minister for Border Affairs Lt-Gen Thein Htay, Union Minister for Immigration and Population U Khin Yi, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Daw Myat Myat Ohn Khin, deputy ministers and departmental heads, left here for Yangon with the Tatmadaw aircraft yesterday morning.

The Vice-President then proceeded to Sittway with the special flight of Myanma Airways, together with ambassadors of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey, diplomats and officials of UN agencies.

On arrival at Sittway airport, they were welcomed by the Rakhine State chief minister, the commander and state ministers.

The Vice-President held a meeting with ambassadors, diplomats, members of UN agencies, the state ministers, personnel working for restoring stability in the state, the supervisory committee for restoring peace and stability, relief and rehabilitation in Rakhine State and departmental heads.

At the meeting, Vice- President said that despite the government’s efforts, which were witnessed by diplomats and officials from UN agencies during their trips to Rakhine State, to restore peace and stability in Rakhine State since the conflict out broke, some accused the government of using over force to control the situation, and some media had portrayed the conflict as a “genocide” and that were totally contrary to the truth.

The vice-president also reaffirmed that there was no racial or religious discrimination by local authorities in Rakhine State when they made efforts for restoring peace and the rule of law. The fabricated reportage and information can arise misunderstanding among the international community over the actual situation in Rakhine State, he added.

To dispel the suspicion, the Government would provide correct facts and information and the diplomats and UN agencies can witness the actual situation.

The Ministry of Information also issued a press release strongly opposing the fabricated news and reportages.

With the aim of building a society which can live in peaceful coexistence in Rakhine State, the government has been making efforts at most to settle the issue, he said, and he also stressed the need for assisting in social and economic development of the local people in Rakhine State as part of efforts for settling out the issue.

For the social and economic development of the state, necessary arrangements have been made and the government itself has been providing humanitarian aids to the needy people in Rakhine State in a non-discriminatory manner, he added.

The government has been working together with UN agencies UNHCR, WFP, OCHA, NGOs, INGOs, other governments of the countries which are interested in implementing the socioeconomic development, and such way of cooperation is a meaningful and positive approach to help the people in Rakhine State.

Vice-President Dr Sai Mauk Kham also expressed his belief that the diplomats and members of the UN agencies would witness the actual situation in Rakhine State, saying that he expected that the UN agencies would submit the reports which reflect the actual situation in Rakhine State to their respective headquarters.

Union Minister Lt- Gen Thein Htay briefed on June and October  incidents, rehabilitation and humanitarian aids.

UN Resident Coordinator Nigam thanked the government for arranging the trip. He pointed out the formation of the commission as one of the government measures. He called for immediate response to the humanitarian issues.

He called for providing shelter to displaced persons, allotment of land, ending hostilities of the local people towards the aids groups, social harmony between two societies, and granting citizenships to the eligible persons in accord with 1982 citizenship law which he said is key to address the issue. He also thanked donor countries and urged them to donate more.

The ambassadors of Indonesia, Bangladesh, Turkey and Cambodia said they would continue to support of the government’s efforts regarding the Rakhine State incident, acknowledging it is very subtle issue. They said their support was echoed at 21st ASEAN Summit, calling for addressing root issues.

Vice-President Dr Sai Mauk Kham in his concluding remarks thanked those present for their discussions and reiterated it was a fragile issue. He said the understanding of the history of the Rakhine State is required to resolve the issue. The Rakhine State incident is an obstacle while the government is initiating political, economic and social reforms. The June and October incidents were based on deep hostilities between the two societies. It would take time to resolve the issue, he said. He vowed the most possible effort of the government to overcome the challenge.

On arrival at Sambalay village in Minbya Township, the Vice-President and party met the local people and presented aids.

They comforted and interviewed the local people of Taunbwe village in Kyaktaw Township and presented them with aids.

The Vice-President met local people at the briefing hall of Shwe Yin Aye village in Maungtaw Township and the diplomats interviewed the villagers. U Tha Sein of Shwe Yin Aye Village said he thanked the government for taking relief and rehabilitation measures.

The Vice-President and party viewed construction of make-shift tents for local people in Thayaykonbaung village in Maungtaw  Township and cordially greeted the local people.

They left Thayaykonbaung village for Sittway with helicopters. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and the Rakhine State  government provided rice bags, oil, salt, pulses and beans, instant food and blankets to the local people of the villages.

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