YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar must scrap restrictions on movement and citizenship for Rohingya if it wants to avoid fuelling extremism and bring peace to Rakhine state, a commission led by former UN chief Kofi Annan said yesterday.
Rights groups hailed the report as a milestone for the Rohingya community because the government of Aung San Suu Kyi has previously vowed to abide by its findings.
Mr Annan was appointed by Ms Suu Kyi to head a year-long commission tasked with healing long-simmering divisions between the Rohingya and local Buddhists.
Speaking in Yangon, the former UN chief warned that failure to implement its recommendations could lead to more extremism and violence. “Tensions remain high and the status quo cannot continue,” Mr Annan told reporters. “There is no time to lose, the situation in Rakhine state is becoming more precarious.”
Among the key recommendations by panel was ending all restrictions on movement imposed on the Rohingya and other communities in Rakhine, and shutting down refugee camps – which hold more than 120,000 people in often miserable conditions.
It also called on the country to review a controversial 1982 law that effectively bars some one million Rohingya from becoming citizens, to invest heavily in the region and to allow the media unfettered access.
“The commission has chosen to squarely face these sensitive issues because we believe that if they are left to fester, the future of Rakhine state, and indeed Myanmar as a whole, will be irretrievably jeopardised,” Mr Annan said.