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Prime Minister likens Rohingya ‘destruction’ to ‘ethnic cleansing’

ROHINGYA Muslims in Myanmar are facing “destruction” and the actions of the country’s military look “like ethnic cleansing”, the Prime Minister Theresa May has said this week.

Mrs May said that the UK would work through the UN to “stop this appalling and inhuman destruction of the Rohingya people”, and that the Burmese military “must take full responsibility” for the crisis.

The UN has already described the situation in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State as textbook ethnic cleansing.

A Sky News investigation this week took the first independent footage of the treatment being meted out to Rohingya Muslims in Rakine, including images of emaciated adults and children who have been forced onto a beach by the military and left to die.

The Burmese military have denied all accusations of violence, releasing details of their own internal investigation into the situation in Rakhine State. In a post published on Facebook this week. They denied killing Rohingya people, raping women, or burning their villages, and instead blamed any violence on “terrorists” within the Rohingya community. It did announce the removal of the army chief in charge of the region, although no reasons for his transfer were given.

Amnesty International said that Myanmar’s “crimes against humanity” must be punished.

“The Myanmar military has made clear it has no intention of ensuring accountability; it’s now up to the international community to step up to ensure these appalling abuses do not go unpunished,” Amnesty International’s regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Dr James Gomez, said.

Since August, more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh, where they are living in makeshift camps. More have been forced from their homes but are trapped in Myanmar.

The mounting evidence of the crimes against the Rohingya has led to a backlash against Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s defacto leader. Once beloved by the West, she has now been stripped of many of the accolades once awarded to her, and there are further calls for her to be stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize that she won in 1991.

The Irish singer and musician Sir Bob Geldof has handed back his honour of the Freedom of the city of Dublin in protest at his fellow recipient, saying that he did not want to be on the same roll as someone who was a “handmaiden to genocide”.

The city of Oxford has already removed the similar honour it awarded to Ms Suu Kyi. She was a former undergraduate in the city.

The Association of South East Asian Nations, which includes Myanmar, met this week and issued a statement that failed to mention the Rohingya crisis. Ms Suu Kyi attended the summit in Manila.

The United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was due to hold talks on Wednesday with Ms Suu Kyi and the head of Myanmar’s military, to try to stem the crisis.


(c) 2017 Church Times

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