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Ex-UN chief Annan to visit troubled Myanmar state

Ex-UN chief Annan to visit troubled Myanmar state

Chair of Advisory Commission on Rakhine State to visit area in which violence which has seen between 86 and 417 people killed

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Former United Nations chief Kofi Annan is set to visit Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine State amid international cries for a probe into violence which has seen between 86 and 417 people killed.

Nobel laureate Annan was selected in August to chair the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, with the aim of finding lasting solutions to “complex and delicate issues” in Myanmar's westernmost area -- the impoverished home to around 1.2 million stateless Rohingya Muslims.

On Monday, commission member and Chief Convener for the Islamic Centre of Myanmar Aye Lwin told Anadolu Agency that Annan would arrive in Myanmar for the mission in days.

“He will visit [Myanmar capital] Nay Pyi Taw and Rakhine State,” said Aye Lwin, who is also a founding member of the interfaith organization Religions for Peace.

Annan last visited Rakhine -- one of the poorest regions in Myanmar -- in September for the first time as commission chair.

Since mid-2012, the region has seen a series of incidents of communal violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya which have left around 100 people dead and some 100,000 displaced in camps -- mostly members of the Rohingya minority.

On Monday, a senior official at Rakhine regional government said Annan is to visit Maungdaw Township in northern Rakhine state near the Bangladesh border.

“As far as I know, he will visit the Sittwe and Maungdaw Townships this week,” the officer said on a condition of anonymity, as he has not authorized to speak to media.

Over the past six weeks, rights groups have expressed concern over reports of killings, rapes and arbitrary arrests in Maungdaw and other villages predominantly inhabited by Rohingya in Rakhine amid military operations launched after fatal attacks on police outposts last month.

Myanmar has said that since the Oct. 9 attacks, at least 86 people -- 17 soldiers and 69 alleged "attackers" -- have been killed, and property destroyed in the area.

Rohingya groups, however, claim that the number of Rohingya killed could be as high as 400.

According to government figure, at least 488 people have been detained for alleged involvement in the initial attacks, along with subsequent alleged attacks on military conducting clearance operations in the area.

On Monday, the State Counselor's Office Information Committee announced that 42 people were arrested over the past four days.

There has been no independent verification of the alleged attacks or arrests as access to the area has been under military control since the initial incident.

A law passed in Myanmar in 1982 denied Rohingya -- many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations -- citizenship, making them stateless.

The law denies the Rohingya rights to Myanmar nationality, removes their freedom of movement, access to education and services, and allows arbitrary confiscation of property.

Myanmar nationalists have since taken to referring to the Rohingya -- which the United Nations calls one of the most persecuted people in the world -- as Bengali, which suggests they are not Myanmar nationals but interlopers from neighboring Bangladesh.

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