June 3, 2017
Dhaka has come out strongly in favour of the UNHRC investigation to probe atrocities committed by the Tatmadaw in Northern Maungdaw, according to sources. Foreign ministry officials have however expressed doubts that the government of Myanmar might not allow the international probe team to operate smoothly.
Myanmar has strongly opposed the move by UNHRC with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing saying it was in the Tatmadaw spirit to prevent the investigation. Following the statement by the powerful army chief, Aung San Suu Kyi also followed suit.
Reports in the Bangladesh media have however hinted that in the event Myanmar blocks access to the Northern Maungdaw region, Bangladesh will allow the probe team full access to the refugee camps where many of the surviving victims are based.
Dhaka's position is a departure from its modus operandi regarding its neighbour with whom it has been eyeing good relations mainly for commercial purposes. The overtures made by Dhaka has generally been ignored by Myanmar where the Tatmadaw has increased reliance on anti Muslim propaganda as one of their justifications to maintain a dominant presence over the nominally civilian government.
However, both India and China had opposed the move and dissociated themselves from the decision by the top UN human rights body. The two dominant powers in the region maintain good relations with both Myanmar and Bangladesh. Indian activists have however told Myanmar Observer that Bangladesh had tried unsuccessfully to convince India to back the probe.
An investigation commission appointed by the Tatmadaw to investigate atrocities in Northern Maungdaw declared themselves not guilty.
Rohingya activists have welcomed the move by UNHRC. A statement released by leading activist group ARNO earlier this week expressed “welcome relief” and hope at the “great move towards creating a full commission of inquiry to investigate the crimes against Rohingya.” The organisation however expressed doubts that they will not be able to function smoothly.