February 18, 2017
While welcoming the end of clearance operations in Maungdaw North, the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) stressed that an independent inquiry is still needed to investigate alleged atrocities in the context of its operations, according to a statement issued on the group’s website on Saturday.
“Declaring an end to the crackdown does not absolve the Myanmar government of its responsibility to protect its people and ensure that they are not subjected to abuse. We’re talking about possible crimes against humanity here. This is not business as usual in ASEAN,” said APHR Chairperson Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament.
“The regional and international pressure that led to this outcome must be sustained,” Santiago said. The parliamentarian alleged the could not be trusted to carry out a fair investigation into the gross human rights violations of the minority community. “Our job is not done. We must ensure that there is no impunity for rights violations. This task demands a credible, independent investigation—one which Myanmar authorities have thus far demonstrated they are unwilling or unable to carry out,” he said.
Earlier, an UN report saying the government had carried out mass atrocities against defenceless populations was flatly denied by the Myanmar regime. Santiago said, “The UN’s exhaustive first-hand reporting further corroborates the claims human rights organisations and independent media have been making for months: possible ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The Myanmar government’s repeated denials of rights violations demonstrate that Naypyitaw has no interest in resolving the situation or addressing underlying issues. The fact that security forces have been tasked with investigating themselves and rooting out abusers in their own ranks speaks for itself." He further states the government is not even doing a good job pretending it is serious in the investigation.