President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar U Thein Sein makes clarifications on undertakings of the government in response to incidents in Rakhine State under the law
Nay Pyi Taw, 16 Nov
President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar U Thein Sein clarified undertakings of the government over incidents in Rakhine State under the law to members of the Sangha led by members of the State Central Working Committee of the Sangha Mingalayama Monastery Sayadaw Agga Maha Pandita Bhaddanta Ratthasara of Botahtaung Township and heads of Islam at the hall of the Presidential Palace, here, at 2 pm today.
Also present on the occasion were Union ministers Lt-Gen Ko Ko, Lt-Gen Thein Htay, U Thein Nyunt, U Soe Thein, U Aung Min, U Khin Yi and Thura U Myint Maung, Deputy Minister U Aung Thein and departmental heads.
At first, President U Thein Sein made clarifications on under-takings of the government in response to incidents in Rakhine State under the law. He said: The purpose of meeting is to take advice from those present, to explain handlings of the
Rakhine Incident in line with the law and to avert similar violence in the futures after taking a lesson from that incident.
In 2012, there occurred two cases of violence, killings and arsons. In the incident, the violence killed 167 people and injured 223. A total of 10,100 houses and buildings were razed in the incident. It displaced 111,000 people from 16980 households. The government is taking care of these victims with the assistance of wellwishers, UN agencies, some foreign countries and organizations.
The root cause of the outbreak of the incident is that two groups committed the killings with anger over a criminal case instead of solving it in the legal bound. It has grown into a massive violence, causing killings, damages and woes. All of these losses are the State’s losses.
Some with strong racial and sectarian views are manipulating the incidents in order that it may grow into a massive violence. In addition, some foreign organizations and countries were releasing the fabrications.
Anyway, the bloodsheds that occurred in Rakhine State have caused a halt to Myanmar’s development and lost face on the international stage. There were allegations over Myanmar. And the new government has to settle the problems with some countries including the UN till now.
Bengali people who take faith in Islam have been living in Rakhine State since the time of the British colonial rule. According to the census taken by the British in 1872, there were 58,255 Mahamadem there. Those people were doing farming. They went back to a neighbouring country just when finishing their works. Later, they settled down there without going back to their places. The successive governments laid down plans to prevent this as a national duty as there were people born from original residents and ill-legal migrants.
During June and October incidents, there occurred conflicts in 11 of 17 townships in Rakhine State. It is found that the percentage of people who have suffered the consequences of it is 53.8 % (women), 46.2% (men) and 42.9% (children under 12), mostly women and children. It is estimated that it needs 66.5 million USD for humanitarian aids for those victims for the period from July, 2012 to June, 2013. For June incident, it cost 1 million USD per month for the food rations of 75,000 victims. About 111,000 victims are suffering the consequences of these conflicts. And 3.2 million people who are residing in Rakhine State have no
security and safety, and can not do their likelihoods and trading. Rakhine villages and some Bengali villages are facing shortage of food due to the lack of trading.
The disruptions of some Rakhine national youths with strong racism and some Bengali have caused a halt to distribution of rations by UN’s staff and volunteers to the affected regions.
It leads to the more hardship of victims’ livelihoods. But, about 108,000 bags of rice were distributed to the victims from July to October.
Reviewing the current situation of Rakhine State, local people are suffering from evil consequences of ongoing communal strife, another severe blow to the state which is already in trouble with 43.5 per cent of local population under poverty line. In addition, Rakhine State, the second poorest region of the country, has nearly 289,000 victims of flood and Giri Storm in 2010 in Buthidaung Township coupled with about 200,000 persons suffering from malnutrition in the northern part, which are viewed as real challenge to the government. It therefore can be concluded from the overall situation that 600,000 locals (19 per cent) out of the local population of approximately 3.2 million people have unfortunately turned into refugees.
This situation suggests that only the collaborative efforts of government and people, UN agencies and international organizations, and NGOs can guarantee the survival of those 600,000 victims.
Rakhine State has seen nearly seven times of communal strife since 1942 in its northern part and 2012 incidents are of the severest ones with perceived instigations designed for conversion from usual social phenomenon to political process.
The conflicts were attributable to attempts for widening the social gap based on long-existed differences of race, religion, language, culture and custom between the two societies.
It is concluded that preemptive measures to further reinforce the differences between the two societies and gain upper hand over each other have led to conflicts. In reality, it needs to learn from the examples of different global countries in modern world in which diverse races, languages, religions and customs are converted and utilized as national rich resources.
The wishes of ordinary local people of Rakhine State can be seen as to have access to secured livelihood and job opportunities, be free from poverty and making living
in a peaceful and stable environment and they hoped that the government could help them escape from the conflict-led trouble.
In reviewing the root causes of communal strife, ground situation and socioeconomic status apart from historical background and racist sentiment are found as root causes. Socio-economic conditions—isolation of the state due to poor transportation, low education standard coupled with poverty, and fewer business and job opportunities are seen as the root causes of the issue.
In reality, Rakhine State is the back gate of Myanmar with commercial opportunities with Western countries, the Middle East nations, ASEAN fellows as
well as India and Bangladesh.
Not only Myanmar, but also China and landlocked states near north-east India are interested in using ports in Rakhine State and we should turned the Rakhine State to the trade center of the region.
Sittway and Kyaukpyu deep seaports in Rakhine State would become the international seaports in 2013. Similarly, plans have been made to upgrade the Thandwe, Kyaukpyu and Sittway airports to international airports. Gas pipelines and oil pipelines have been laid from Kyaukpyu to Kuming of the People’s Republic of China and when roads and railroads are completed in parallel with the pipelines, Rakhine would become the corridor not only to link with the mainland but also to link the east and west nations and would become the trade center.
When it becomes the trade center, foreign investment and local investment would flow into the state, boosting the economy of the state and creating job opportunities.
Making the best use of the economic and job opportunities, efforts should be made to improve the education and socio standard of the people in Rakhine State.
However, what play a key role in achieving the aims are stability, peace and the rule of law, he said, and that would be achieved only when there is no social conflict in the region.
The world has become a village due to the globalization and what happened in one corner of the world can be known by every people in the world within minutes and an hour and it is impossible to hide any issue.
Myanmar is a member of the United Nations and it has relations with other countries in the world and has responsibility to settle the humanitarian issues in comply with the international standard. If it fails to comply with the human rights standard and humanitarian standard that is being practiced by other countries, the image of the country will be tarnished. The people living in Rakhine State have rights to work in the interests of their state and national race. However, they should not pursue just for their own interests and they, taking a wider view, should pursue in the interests of Myanmar and the entire people, the nations in the world and the entire mankind.
In conclusion, the president stressed the need for cooperation of the entire people to work together with the government without racism and religionalism in attempts to bring the mutual understandings on the differences between the two communities, to respect the rights, not to cause conflicts and to bring about the society compatible with each other.
The president asked those present at the meeting to give advice for improvement of the socio-economy of the Rakhine State and the people.
Next, Bhaddanta Çintitalankara, member of State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee and abbot of Mizzimayon monastery of Mawlamyinegyun Township in Ayeyawady Region, said that these cases would disrupt the transition. He quoted the Buddha as saying, ‘Efforts of united group bring about wellbeing.’ He stressed
the importance of unity of all the people living in the country. Tolerance and loving-kindness among the people must be developed, he said.
Agga Maha Ganthavaçaka Pandita Bhaddanta Sucittabhivamsa, abbot of Alodawpyae monastery Dhammacariya University, quoted Maha-tma Gandhi as saying, ‘India is a country where the people of the largest variety of religions and races in the world live. Do not destroy India holding views of low caste or low religion.’ He called for unity among the people of various religions and races without giving any room for extremist views.
Chairman of Rakhine State Sangha Nayaka Committee Sayadaw Agga Maha Ganthavaçaka Pandita Bhaddanta Soma of Dhammathukha Monastery of Sittway recognized the inspection team formed by the government as a group of practitioners; urging them to give the medicine that can cure the disease and highlighting middle way to be practiced. The Sayadaw acknowledged the President
that the government was striving for peace and stability and development of the nation, day in day out. Unselfish and righteous motives could bring peace and stability.
Secretary of Rakhine State Sangha Nayaka Committee Agga Maha Ganthavaçaka Pandita Bhaddanta Nandasiri of Sittway Nandayama Monastery expressed his opinion that security measure is the main point. Although present situation is calm,
the people are worried about many matters. The Sayadaw noted that taking of security measures, deployment of security forces and carrying out of effective rule of law.
Retired ambassador U Hla Maung said if a country is to develop its economy, it first needs to make sure stability. The stability of the State is of super importance at a time the Western countries have recognized the reform process of the new government with huge investment potential. He concluded that though political stability is prerequisite for economic prosperity of a country, it still would not be able to avoid conflicts without economic growth.
UThan Lwin of Myanmar Muslim National Affairs Federation (Vice-Chairman of Kanbawza Bank Ltd) said that a spirit of finding solace is the principle of Buddhism. He spotlighted India and Singapore as role models of all-religion friendship, urging that unrests in Rakhine state could be solved taking the lessons from the situation in India and Singapore. Another point he highlighted was Mahatma Gandhi-initiated all-religion friendship. While nation-building endeavors
were in good shape, racism and regionalism would be hindrances for economic reform. Being a country sandwiched between growing powers India and China, Myanmar would be able to enjoy the portion of development. He made a request to stay away from racism, regionalism and past experiences.
U Hla Win, Chairman of Myanmar Muslim National Affairs Federation said the investigation commission has to investigate and collect the causes, ways for settling out the conflict and needs to be done for the economic development of the state. If there is no tolerance and loving-kindness, the issue would not be settled out. It is important to have unity among the societies and to do within the legal framework and to have loving-kindness and to be tolerant and loyal to each other. He continued to say that the country would enjoy peace and prosperity if the ways and instructions for peace and stability of the State are made so that the people can know and practice easily.
U Tin Maung Win of Myanmar Muslim National Affairs Federation said we can yet say that the current situation in Rakhine State is good but anyone can’t say if the situation would worsen. But, if we see the results, the situation is good. We want to urge to search the arms and take actions against those who are holding arms. We should do it for the rule of law. The government should let the people know through media that the legal actions are taken against those who are holding arms. Rakine State is weak in education and health sectors and it will take time to improve those sectors.
The conflict that happened in Rakhine is just a small one in compare with the global ones. If we can work to prevail peace and stability in the region, we can go along the right track to the development smoothly. After that, the President said he was pleased to realize the Ovada of the Sayadaws and experiences and advice of Islam leaders and added that he believed the Ovada and the advice will contribute much to the national development. The national building endevour of today is the implementation of the people’s desires. The common desire of the people is peace and stability and national development. As peace and stability and national development as the aspirations of the people, the government is implementing them in its utmost. Only when there is peace and stability will it be possible to engage in economic development. And only when there is highersocio-economic status of the people will peace and stability prevail.
Efforts are being made for ensuring all inclusiveness in bringing peace to the nation and progress has been made to a certain extent in that regard. Although the achievements were made in the peace-making mission with the armed groups, some efforts did meet with failure. Thus, the problems still exist as the legacy of the new government. It is known to all that strenuous efforts are being made to bring about peace realizing that only when there is achievement in peace-making process will there be peace and stability in the nation. Myanmar already has basic foundations for develop-ment. But the job opportunity is slim and poverty rate is high due to economic sanctions over 20 years ago. As foreign investment is a source of job opportunity, there will be much of job opportunityonly when there is an influx of foreign investment into the country. If there are still economic sanctions against the nation, there cannot be a great deal of foreign investment. This being so, the county is trying to come to term with all the nations to ensure that sanctions are gradually lifted.
Peace and stability and economic development are interdependent. In its efforts for national development the government will continue to implement the Ovada, experiences and advice of the Sayadaws and the religious leaders. But the tasks cannot be done by the government alone but the entire people. And the Ovada, experiences and advice will be made public all the more.
And the ceremony came to an end at 3.40 pm.