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Thein Sein’s Rakhine Commission Report

 Category: Reports  Publisher: Thein Sein's Government  Published: 8 July 2013  Tags: Myanmar GenocideRohingyaThein Sein |  Download


On August 17th, 2012, President U Thein Sein established the Rakhine Commission of Inquiry through a Presidential Executive Order 1 . This Commission composed of prominent historians, social scientists, legal experts, and civil society leaders, from a broad range of sectors was asked to examine the following 8 areas: (1) investigate the root causes that led to the disturbance of peace and security; (2) verify the extent of loss of life, property and other collateral damage; (3) examine the effort to restore peace and promote law and order; (4) outline means to provide relief and implement resettlement programs; (5) develop short- and long-term strategies to reconcile differences; (6) establish mutual understanding and promote peaceful co-existence between various religious and ethnic groups; (7) advise on the promotion of the rule of law; (8) advise on the promotion of social and economic development. The Commission drafted its report after an extensive survey and archival research on Rakhine state. The Commission received support from various government agencies, civil society organisations, political parties, and the general public. In gathering and analyzing the data itreceived the Commission aimed to maintain its impartiality.

The overarching goal of the Commission’s final report was to promote peace and development in the region rather than place the blame on a specific group or community. The implementation of its recommendations will require close cooperation between the various government agencies, the general public and all sectors of society, as well as from all citizens to create and sustain the desired environment of peace and communal stability.

This stand-alone précis was drafted on the basis of the translation of the original report from Myanmar into English, which after editing is still over 60 pages long. The Commission would like to make a shorter version available to the international community to give it access to the essential information with some more details than the original Executive Summary. It does not change the essence of the original report, but in the interest of conciseness has regrouped some of the issues and recommendations, and therefore does not follow the structure of the original report exactly.

Two caveats have to be made to understand the original report or this summary: on one hand, the Commission faced several constraints in its work: (a) the nature of the Commission’s mandate was not easily understood and its neutrality was often rejected by Rakhine; (b) outside actors, in particular some Bengali leaders in Yangon, exercised undue influence by trying to impose interviewees on the Commission, and by controlling the answers interviewees gave to the Commission; (c) access to people in more remote areas was hampered by the fact that not all Bengalis speak Myanmar language. In order to counter these constraints the Commission trained local young people on how to collect data, and used purposive and quota sampling instead of probability or random sampling. The Commission also enlisted the help of moderate Muslim and Bengali leaders in Yangon. On the other hand, the use of certain terms needs to be made clear: the report uses the term “Bengalis” when referring to people of Bengali origin. The term “Rohingya” is not recognized in Myanmar and its use has become increasingly politicized; as to the term of “Kala”, it was traditionally used for all foreigners from west of the country. The Brits were referred to as Kala Hpyu (white kala). Today it is used colloquially for people originating from the Indian subcontinent. Opinions differ as to what it is derogatory or not.