Burma’s president on Friday announced the formation of a commission to investigate the June deadly ethnic conflict in western Rakhine state, a day after an Islamic group said it would raise the issue of the Muslim Rohingya, who allegedly bore the brunt of the violence, before the United Nations.
The 25-member panel will be tasked with determining the cause of fighting between the minority Rohingyas and Buddhist Rakhines that left dozens of people dead and tens of thousands displaced, according to a statement released on President Thein Sein’s official website.
Its findings will be submitted to Thein Sein in a month.
The commission is to consist of a variety of religious, political, social, media, and economic leaders from Burmese society, and chaired by the retired general of the country’s Religious Affairs Department Myo Myint.
It will include a number of other notable leaders, such as Kyaw Yin Hlaing, of the nationalist political group Myanmar Egress, church leader Reverend Kyaw Nyunt, prominent Muslim leader Haji Nyunt Maung Shein, 88 Generation democracy movement leader Ko Ko Gyi, and veteran journalist Maung Win Tha.
The commission will also include comedian and democracy activist Zarganar, Rakhine leader Aye Thar Aung, and Rakhine Member of Parliament Aye Maung, as well as several other top political leaders.
In addition to investigating the cause of the bloody violence, the panel has been asked to find a solution that would allow the two ethnic groups to live in peace alongside one another in Rakhine state, the statement said.
It will also compile a list of those who died and the property that was destroyed during the weeks of fighting.
The commission has been directed to deliver its findings directly to the office of the president by Sept. 17.
The announcement comes one day after the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned Burma’s “continued recourse to violence” against the Rohingyas and the government’s “refusal to recognize their right to citizenship” at a summit in Mecca.
The OIC said Thursday that it would take the issue of the Rohingyas to the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Rights groups claim the government did little to stop the violence initially and then turned its security forces on the Rohingya with targeted killings, rapes, mass arrests, and torture.
Both the Rakhines and the Rohingyas have been blamed for sparking violence, but human rights groups say the minority Rohingya, who are discriminated against and considered outsiders in Burma, bore the brunt of action by Burmese security forces.
The decision to launch an investigation also followed a statement by Burma's human rights commission on Thursday that an outside and independent probe is unnecessary. Instead, the group suggested that an investigation should be launched domestically.
During a visit to areas affected by the violence last month, UN Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana called for an "independent and credible investigation" into the June violence.
According to a United Nations report released on Thursday, more than 68,500 people have been displaced by ethnic unrest in Rakhine state. That number is growing as sporadic violence continues in the region, the report said.
Reported by RFA’s Burmese service. Translated by Nyein Shwe. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.