All ASEAN SOM Leaders
Dated, 28th November 2016
I wish to take this opportunity to inform you about the recent developments in Rakhine State, which has recently caused some concerns among the ASEAN Member States.
As you may be aware, there were surprised and coordinated attacks on three Border Guard Outposts in Maungdaw Township on 9 October 2016 by violent armed attackers. During those dawn attacks, nine police personnel were killed and 64 various types of weapons and over 6000 rounds of assorted ammunitions were taken away by those attackers.
Following those attacks, the joint columns of Police and Army conducted house- to-house search operations in the areas where the armed attackers were taking refuge. Although the security personnel took maximum restraint, there were frequent encounters with violent armed attackers.
According to initial findings of the interrogations of those armed attackers, the attacks in Maungdaw Township were systematically planned over a long period with the financial support from abroad.
It was also revealed that the dawn attacks were carried out by Aqa Mul Mujahiden Organisation, which received foreign funding from the Middle East and organized terrorist training courses in Pakistan and Bangladesh by Taliban fighters.
The new Government has given priority to improve the situation in Rakhine State and established the Central Committee on the Implementation of Peace, Stability and Development of Rakhine State on 30 May 2016, led by the State Counsellor.
In addition, the new Government established an Advisory Commission on Rakhine State in August 2016 led by Dr. Kofi Annan in order to find the best possible solutions to the prevailing problems in Rakhine State. Dr. Kofi Annan visited Rakhine State in September and will visit Myanmar in the near future to address the current problems in Rakhine State.
Recently, the Ministry of Border Affairs organized a diplomatic tour to Rakhine State on 2-3 November 2016, comprising the United Nations Resident Coordinator and a number of Ambassadors including Indonesian and Thai Ambassadors to Myanmar.
The Government will soon establish the National-level Investigation Commission to address effectively prevailing problems in Rakhine State, including those accusations and distorted information made by the media and some quarters. Furthermore, the Government, in collaboration with the local authorities, has provided more humanitarian assistance to those affected areas.
As a matter of fact, the recent situation in Rakhine State was mis-informed to the public through an interview with BBC by Mr. John McKissick, UNHCR official based in Cox Bazaar, Bangladesh.
His unfounded accusations, along with exaggerated information, also caused a damaging effect on Myanmar’s Government and her cooperation with the United Nations.
We have lodged an official protest against Mr. John McKissick through our Permanent Representative in Geneva to the UNHCR Office for his action, which breached the highest standard of integrity, morality and the code of conduct of the UN personnel.
I am optimistic that fellow ASEAN Member States will understand the prevailing situation and continue to render your valuable support to our endeavours in resolving these unfortunate problems. We stand ready to provide further information on the prevailing situation in Rakhine State.
Please accept, Excellencies, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.
SOM Leader of Myanmar
ASEAN Affairs Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Copy: Secretary-General of ASEAN
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