Myanmar's Rohingya report 'absurd', rights group says

TRAGEDY Rohingya Muslim women and children in one of the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps and Ruhul Tarafder

TRAGEDY Rohingya Muslim women and children in one of the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps and Ruhul Tarafder

Military-led violence against Rohingya men, women and girls has since created what the United Nations called the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis as Bangladesh struggles to provide aid to the sudden influx of traumatized, desperate and severely malnourished refugees.

Myanmar's government and most of the Buddhist majority say the members of the Muslim minority are "Bengalis" who migrated illegally from Bangladesh and do not acknowledge the Rohingya as a local ethnic group even though they have lived in Myanmar, also known as Burma, for generations.

With US senators in Washington pressing to impose economic sanctions and travel restrictions targeting the military and its business interests, Tillerson is expected to deliver a stern message to Burma's generals, while supporting the transition to democracy. Allen said Britain will be watching closely to ensure that the Burmese security forces do not attempt to frustrate these efforts.

The military campaign drew criticism from various organisations which denounced the authorities' numerous abuses against civilians, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described the situation as an "ethnic cleansing".

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also he had an "extended conversation" with Suu Kyi about the plight of Rohingya Muslims.

Since Aug. 25 more than 617,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, fleeing violence in Myanmar, Millman said.

A senior U.S. State Department official said Tuesday that Tillerson would use the visit to "express concerns over the displacement and violence and insecurity affecting Rohingya populations and other local populations and discuss ways to help Burma stakeholders implement commitments aimed at ending the crisis and charting productive ways forward". In the past week, some 1,200 people crossed over on such flimsy rafts, according to police.

Bob Geldof yesterday returned his Freedom of Dublin in protest against the Nobel Peace Prize victor who held the same honour.

Parliamentarians said that the outcome constituted an insufficient response to developments in Rakhine State, and that the avoidance of key details indicated ASEAN's failure to address the drivers of the crisis.

The organisation added that "there is overwhelming evidence that the military has murdered and raped Rohingya and burned their villages to the ground" and called for an investigation by the UN.

Washington, D.C. -based Refugees International called on Tillerson on Tuesday to recognize the Rohingya crisis as ethnic cleansing, a term that the US government has so far refused to use.

Myanmar political analyst Yan Myo Thein said the omission of the Rohingya crisis from the statement could reflect ASEAN's policy of noninterference in the internal affairs of member states.

Denmark was one of the first responding donors to the on-going crisis and has so far committed over $18.7 million for humanitarian relief of the Rohingya refugees through United Nations agencies and NGO's. And it is something for which the Burmese authorities - and especially the military - must take full responsibility.

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