New York

26 July 2012

Note to correspondents - Statement by the Special Adviser on Myanmar

The United Nations is committed to assisting Myanmar and its people in their reform and national reconciliation efforts, including overcoming imminent challenges.  In this spirit, the United Nations has been working to help assist many of the victims of the recent violence in Rakhine State regardless of their religion or ethnicity.

As the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, I travelled to Rakhine State in the midst of the inter-communal tensions there and led a UN humanitarian team to accompany the Minister for Border Affairs on 13 June to some of the localities most affected by the violence.  

I also raised the Secretary-General’s personal concerns along with the UN’s expectations directly at the highest level with President Thein Sein.  The President’s statements on this issue recognize the risk that such a situation presents for the broader reform process now under way in Myanmar.

After meeting with local communities and displaced groups, I briefed member states on the situation, including on the longstanding issue of the Rohingya people.

While the response by the Government thus far has been prompt and calibrated and while the President has stressed the need to handle the matter with sensitivity, I have, during the past days, called on the authorities, publicly and privately, to make an independent and transparent investigation of these tragic events.  Such action should establish accountability as well as the prevalence of the rule of law.  It should also address the underlying causes of the violence, including with regard to the condition of the Muslim community in Rakhine as an integral part of the national reconciliation process.