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Burmese investigative commission ‘blocked’ locally: Zarganar

Efforts of Burma’s government-appointed commission to investigate the recent communal violence in Rakhine State have been blocked by local community members “from all sides” who refuse to cooperate, according to reports.

Political activist and well-known comedian Zarganar. Photo: MizzimaZarganar, a popular entertainer who is one of 27 commission members, told Radio Free Asia (RFA), “At some point, things have become tougher as we do not have enough cooperation from all sides. For example the local ethnic Rakhine, Muslim community, government offices, and even the members of parliament have become increasingly less willing to participate.”

“I don't know the real reason behind their uncooperative manner,” he said, in an article on the RFA website on Thursday. “Maybe they don't trust us or maybe they simply don't want to talk to us. I can't say, but we aren’t getting what we want.”

Zarganar said there are “many more questions to ask” before the commission can submit its finding to the president’s office.

“I am afraid this may not be completed by the Nov. 14 date set by the president,” he said.

The commission, which includes members from a variety of ethnic, religious and professional backgrounds, was formed after community violence between Muslim Rohingya and Rakhine Buddhists in June left up to 90 people dead and displaced up to 70,000 people.

President Thein Sein set up the commission in response to international criticism over the government’s handling of the clashes. Rights groups say the minority Rohingya group bore the brunt of action by Burmese security forces. No Rohingyas are part of the investigating team.

Zarganar said that the commission had completed a preliminary report based on its investigation and interviews, but was continuing to update it as new information became available.

The team was nowhere near making a conclusion about the root cause of the ethnic unrest because of the complex nature of the crisis, he said.

“To tell the truth, I don't know what to say at all. Let alone drawing a conclusion, we are still in the stage of deliberations,” the comedian said.

“Sometimes we think we have the people we need to answer our questions, and they don't show up [for interviews]. Other times we ask for documents they have said they are in possession of, but then later they say they are lost,” he said.

“We just don't know how to follow through," he said.

Zarganar said that the investigation commission has been based in Rangoon and four days ago began preparations to open another office in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State and a center of much of the June unrest.

The United Nations regards the Rohingya as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 October 2012 13:01 )  

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