Let me make a few introductory remarks on our report.
First, we should accept that the nature of the crisis facing Rakhine state has changed due to the attacks of 9 October and the subsequent security operations.
This has led to investigations and reports by the United Nations and human rights agencies. However, we as the Advisory Commission are guided by our mandate to focus mainly on long-standing obstacles to peace and development in Rakhine State.
We recognise that the challenges facing Rakhine State and its peoples are complex and the search for lasting solutions will require determination, perseverance and trust. Nevertheless, there are steps that can be taken immediately, which we put forward in this report.
The report proposes a series of measures to address the situation in Rakhine State.
These recommendations include a renewed call for unimpeded access for humanitarian actors and journalists to the affected areas in Northern Rakhine and for independent and impartial investigation of the allegations of crimes committed on and since 9 October 2016.
We strongly believe that perpetrators of these crimes must be held to account.
Our recommendations, of course, go beyond the current situation in Northern Rakhine and include proposals relating to: the protection of rights, freedom of movement, enhanced economic and social development and the edification of Rakhine’s cultural heritage.
The Commission is aware of a number of unresolved concerns surrounding the verification of citizenship and recommends that they be clarified and resolved without delay.
We also stress that inclusive access to healthcare and education for the all the people in Rakhine requires attention and improvement.
In this context the Commission makes some interim recommendations for early remedial measures.
In the Commission’s view, creating conditions conducive for inter-communal dialogue, representation and participation in public life are essential to ensure that Rakhine state is spared from recurring cycles of violence and destruction. We make some recommendations in that regard.
In developing these interim recommendations, my fellow Commissioners and I have undertaken numerous consultations and discussions with a wide range of stakeholders in Rakhine, Yangon, and Naypyitaw.
As part of that consultative process, a Commission team visited Bangladesh. We have also held consultations with officials from Indonesia, Thailand and organisations based in New York and Geneva.
We believe that bilateral cooperation with Bangladesh on security and economic matters is critical, as is the outreach to ASEAN members.
The recommendations in this report are not exhaustive and do not address all of the issues covered in our mandate.
These are early proposals for action. The main body of our recommendations will be presented in a final report later this year.
In closing I want to commend my fellow Commissioners and members of our office in Yangon, who have worked tirelessly to fulfil the important task, set for us by the State Counsellor.
Our consultations will continue as we work to produce our final report, and we look forward to further exchanges with communities and stakeholders across Rakhine State.