28 Feb Network Myanmar criticises Fortify Rights report

Written by Hans Hulst Published in Myanmar Read 4015 times

A report published by human rights organization Fortify Rights on February 25 has been described as containing outdated and inaccurate information by a veteran analyst of Myanmar affairs, Derek Tonkin.

The report by Bangkok-based Fortify Rights, Policies of Persecution: Ending Abusive State Policies Against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, alleges that the Myanmar government is systematically violating the human rights of Rakhine Muslims.

Fortify Rights says the report is based on interviews and 12 leaked official documents issued in Rakhine State. Fortify Rights says the documents suggest that abuse of Rohingya Muslims is policy.

In an analysis of the report posted on the website of Network Myanmar, of which he is editor, Mr Tonkin says there is “nothing particularly new” in the report that has not already been examined by other commentators.

Referring to the documents cited in the report, Mr Tonkin says: “The discriminatory measures announced in these local orders may have been tacitly accepted by central government at the time, but are currently in abeyance. None of the ‘leaked’ documents is attributed to the central government itself, which is currently examining the recommendations of the Commission of Enquiry into communal violence in 2012 in Rakhine State.”

Mr Tonkin says there have been many diplomatic and international visits to Rakhine State during the past two years and that there continues to be “serious international concern about the appalling conditions in which Rohingya and other Muslim residents and displaced people like the Kaman are being held or forced to live” in Rakhine State.

But he says there “is simply no evidence from the reports of these observers that the instructions previously issued by local authorities are still in operational use, but every reason to suppose that they are now in disuse or discarded.”

Mr Tonkin said the Fortify Rights report served “no useful purpose except to aggravate a complex and difficult situation”.

Mr Tonkin was also critical of references in the report to the European Union.

Fortify Rights wrote: “Certain members of the international community might also be implicated in denying the Rohingya ethnicity or at least attempting to placate Myanmar authorities on the issue. On February 3, 2014, the European Union Heads of Mission in Myanmar issued a communiqué following a four-day mission to northern Rakhine State, failing to mention the word ‘Rohingya’. The document mentioned ‘Rakhine Buddhists’ and ‘Muslim communities’.”

Mr Tonkin said there was “not a shred of evidence for these unawarranted allegations” concerning the EU.

Mr Tonkin, a former British ambassador to Thailand and an adviser to Bagan Capital Ltd., established Network Myanmar in 2007.

Last modified on Friday, 28 February 2014 13:48