Rights group sceptical over Myanmar leader's speech on Rohingya

Camille Francis
September 20, 2017

Marzuki Darusman decried stepped-up violence in Myanmar over the last month that has caused more than 400,000 people to flee, and asked the United Nations -backed Human Rights Council for a six-month extension until next September for his team's first written report.

In less than a month just under half of Rakhine's one-million-strong Rohingya minority has poured into Bangladesh, where they now languish in one of the world's largest refugee camps.

Rohingya Muslims have faced persecution in Myanmar for decades, but attacks by Rohingya insurgents on Myanmar security forces on August 25 sparked the fresh violence against the minority group.

She says the government is working to restore normalcy.

With a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims sparking accusations of ethnic cleansing from the United Nations and others, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday said her country does not fear worldwide scrutiny and invited diplomats to see some areas for themselves. Suu Kyi might be the effective head of state, but it's the military that calls the shots.

Members of the military have reportedly been laying landmines along the border to make sure they do not return and mobs of ethnic Rakhines, who are predominantly Buddhist, have reportedly threatened Rohingya, who are predominantly Muslim, to "leave or they will kill them all". "We would like to talk to those who have fled as well as those who have stayed".

But the latter is an empty threat in a country where the civilian leader has no control over an army with a long history of scorched-earth operations, said Human Rights Watch's Phil Robertson.

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Thus, it becomes unclear whether she referred to the state's entire population, or specifically the Rohingya population, who have been disproportionally affected by recent violence according to the United Nations and others.

Suu Kyi, who decided not to attend the UN General Assembly in NY later this week, said she was "aware of the fact that the world's attention is focused on the situation in Rakhine" and that Myanmar "does not fear worldwide scrutiny", CNN reported. Here's a look at the countries hosting Rohingya fleeing persecution over the past four decades.

"It is sad that in meeting our diplomatic community I am obliged to focus on a very few of our problems when there are so many which I think we can resolve together", Suu Kyi said in English, aiming her half-hour address at foreign diplomats and fellow Nobel laureates who have grown increasingly dismayed by the violence and her refusal to speak out in favor of the Rohingya.

In her speech, Suu Kyi invited diplomats to visit villages that weren't affected so they could learn why fighting did not take place in those areas.

"Aung San Suu Kyi's claims that her government "does not fear worldwide scrutiny" ring hollow".

They show the destruction of tens of thousands of homes across Maungdaw and Rathedaung Townships, part of the Burmese security forces' campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The Myanmar government does not use the term "Rohingya" and does not recognise the people as an official ethnicity, which means the Rohingya are denied citizenship and effectively rendered stateless. Hundreds of thousands more Rohingya were already in Bangladesh from waves of violence years earlier.

Other reports by My Hot News

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