Friday, January 18, 2019 | ePaper

Myanmar army's meeting with its government must deliver results

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MYANMAR'S army and civilian leadership reportedly held a 'national security' meeting on Friday and discussed an internal investigation into the Rohingya crisis in Rakhine State. The meeting - only the third of its kind since Aung San Suu Kyi's government took power in 2016 - also discussed a deal to allow the UN to enter the Rakhine province to assess the current situation while preparing  a probable timeframe for taking in the refugees.
However good and promising the meetings may appear, they must deliver results. Coupled with the summer heat pre-monsoon rainfall has begun, international funds are shrinking for accommodating the million plus refugees and we want the Myanmar military and government to jointly implement their plans in the ground.
Until this week's deal with the UN, Myanmar had dragged its feet for months over the repatriation of the stateless minority, insisting the region is safe for their return but refusing access to outsiders to evaluate conditions. The country has said 'it will establish its own independent probe to investigate human rights abuses'.
The point here is that if the new probe is sincere and accountable to its job, its findings will not be any different from what was discovered by the Kofi Annan Commission report following UN's successive investigative teams. Their findings were all based on death, destruction, carnage, murder, looting and rape, and we don't know what better revelations the new probe team of Myanmar government would come up with. The last thing we expect to hear from a new investigation is that - nothing happened; there was no looting or rape taking place in Rakhine.  
Most importantly, the purpose behind launching a fresh investigation will buy Myanmar more time. But time is of essence and value, and as long as Myanmar fails to ensure the safe and voluntary return of the refugees - it must come forward to share the lion's share of the cost for sheltering the refugees in Bangladesh.
Analysts assume high-level meetings between the civilian government and military could help smooth differences which continue to perforate their power-sharing agreement, as of now. Though Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a repatriation deal in November but up until now its application has been non-existent.
Most importantly, the latest meeting took place in the light of UN's interest to broker a deal for safe repatriation of the refugees last week. It's expected, whatever internal meetings or steps are taken - Myanmar should engage the UN and inform all developments on the Rohingya repatriation issue.

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