Appendix III: Letter with Questions from Human Rights Watch to President Thein Sein – January 29, 2013
January 29, 2013
President Thein Sein
Office of the President
Nay Pi Taw, Myanmar
Dear President Thein Sein,
Human Rights Watch is a nongovernmental organization based in New York that monitors violations of human rights by states and non-state actors in more than 90 countries around the world.
Human Rights Watch is preparing a report regarding the situation in Arakan State. Our report explores issues of sectarian violence, killings, forced displacement, and access to humanitarian assistance. The report is based in part on in-depth interviews conducted with ethnic Arakanese and Rohingya civilians in Arakan State and Bangladesh.
We are writing to ensure that our report properly reflects the views, policies, and practices of the government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar regarding the events in Arakan State.
Human Rights Watch is committed to producing material that is well-informed and objective. We hope you or your staff will respond in a timely way to the attached questions so that your views are accurately reflected in our reporting. In order for us to take your answers into account in our forthcoming report, we would appreciate a written response by February 18, 2013.
Please do not hesitate to send to us any other materials, statistics, and information about government actions regarding the violence between the Arakanese and the Rohingya populations in Arakan State that you think will be relevant.
We look forward to having a dialogue and engagement in pursuit of human rights issues with the government of Myanmar.
Thank you for your time in addressing these urgent matters.
Lieutenant General Ko Ko, Minister of Home Affairs
U Wunna Maung Lwin, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Major General Thein Htay, Minister of Border Affairs
Ko Ko Hlaing, Chief Political Advisor to the President’s Office
U Ye Htut, Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Information
Questions from Human Rights Watch to the
Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
- During the June 2012 violence in Arakan State, Human Rights Watch reported on abuses by government security forces. What specific actions did the government take after June 2012 to prevent the resurgence of sectarian violence and abuses by state security forces in Arakan State? What steps are being taken now to prevent further violence after the events in October 2012?
- Please provide information about the number of deaths and injured of all ethnic groups in Arakan State since June 2012. What method is the government using to record deaths and injuries?
- What did the authorities do with the bodies of those killed during the sectarian violence in Arakan State? What was the procedure for handling the bodies? Where are the location(s) of the bodies?
- How many Rohingya and Arakanese have been arrested in connection with the sectarian violence since June? How many have been charged with offenses and how many have been released from custody?
- How many cases connected to the sectarian violence since June 2012 are being prosecuted? Please provide a list including details of the cases, information about the defendants, the charges brought, and the locations of the defendants.
- Have any persons detained in connection with the sectarian violence in Arakan State died in custody? If so, please explain the cause of death in each case.
- It is our understanding that significant and severe humanitarian needs persist in camps of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Arakan State, especially those camps housing Rohingya and Kaman Muslims. Do you believe the aid reaching the camps is adequate or not? If not, why not? What steps are the government taking to ensure sufficient aid can reach the camps?
- How will the government facilitate the return of displaced Rohingya, Kaman Muslims, and Buddhist Arakanese, to their homes in Arakan State. What provisions of assistance will be provided for basic needs and to re-start their lives? What is the estimated timeline for these activities?
- It is our understanding that the government has reduced the permissible programs of several humanitarian organizations operating in Arakan State since the violence began in June 2012. Why were their programs reduced? What steps are being taken to ensure that communities not displaced by the violence get sufficient assistance?
- What challenges are faced by the relevant authorities to investigate and prosecute abuses during the sectarian violence in Arakan State in which state security forces – including members of the armed forces, police and militias – were implicated? How are these challenges being overcome?
- What challenges does the justice system face in prosecuting alleged perpetrators of violence in Arakan State? How are these challenges being overcome?
- What is the disciplinary structure within Nasaka, Lon Thein, and the Burmese armed forces? Please describe specific examples of its use, with specific reference to instances in Arakan State since June 2012.
- Please explain why the government refers to the ethnic Rohingya population in Arakan State as “Bengali,” and “so-called Rohingya”?
- In a statement released on November 18, 2012, prior to US President Barack Obama’s visit, President Thein Sein stated with respect to the situation in Arakan State that the government would “address contentious political dimensions, ranging from resettlement of displaced populations to granting of citizenship.” Can you please explain how the government intends to address the issue of legal status and citizenship for Rohingya?