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Ban Ki Moon: UN stands ready to help implement Rakhine Action Plan

November 15, 2014

Written By Mizzima

 

At a media round table with selected local media in Naypyidaw on November 13, UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon said in his opening remarks that the UN stands ready to support the Myanmar Government in implementing its draft Rakhine Action Plan.

 

UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon answers media questioning at MICC 1 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on November 13, 2014. Photo: Hong Sar/Mizzima

 

The plan has been sharply critized by human rights groups. It would lead to the denial of citizenship rights to large numbers of Rohingya, critics say, who would be moved to IDP camps and might even be resettled.

 

In an official statement circulated by the UN in the afternoon of November 13 Mr Ban said: “The Government is now ready to roll out a comprehensive Action Plan to address all of these issues. I am confident that it can be successful in addressing the complex problems in Rakhine so that all communities can look forward to a safe, dignified and hopeful future. The UN stands ready to help in these efforts.”

 

The statement is noteworthy in that the UN has until today been silent about the Rakhine Action Plan, while others in the international community were dismissing it.

 

Mr Ban also made a public about turn by using both the Bengali and Rohingya terminology. In a press conference a day earlier Ban explicitly defended the use of the word Rohingya by the UN and the right to self identify of this ethnic minority. He also pointed out that the denial of rights to the Rohingya would lead to further stalling of the reform process.

 

These remarks led to widespread outrage among the Myanmar people and ridiculing posts on Facebook. In response the Chief Minister of Rakhine State declared his “deep dissapointment” with the secretary general in an open letter circulated ahead of the media round table on November 13.

 

Earlier in the day Mr Ban met with President U Thein Sein. To which extent Myanmar pressure led to Mr Ban’s public flip-flopping is unclear.

 

During the media round table the secretary general also touched on poverty in Rakhine State that has affected both the Muslim and Buddhist communities. He said in his statement that “development can be brought to all peoples. That is why in addition to much needed humanitarian assistance to the interally displaced the UN is scaling up development assistance there.”