Saturday, 22 September, 2018

UK's Johnson presses Suu Kyi on Rohingya crisis

EU Parliament delegation goes to Myanmar, as evidence of genocide spreads UK foreign minister set to visit Rohingya refugee camp
Ellis Copeland | 12 February, 2018, 01:03

Myanmar's leader and Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi is facing worldwide criticism, including from fellow peace prize victor Desmond Tutu, for not doing more to stop what the United Nations says are mass killings, rapes and the burning of villages taking place in Rakhine state.

Speaking on Saturday after a visit to Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, where over a million Rohingya Muslim refugees are cramped into crowded and unsafe camps, Boris Johnson expressed his horror at the conditions in which they are living.

The Myanmar government has faced worldwide accusations of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign in Rakhine, with almost 700,000 Rohingya fleeing the area since last August amid reports of atrocities committed by troops and vigilante groups.

Mr Johnson met with the embattled leader, whose reputation has crumbled over her handling of the Rohingya crisis, in the capital of Naypyidaw while on a four-day tour in Asia. Doctors Without Borders estimated at least 6,700 Rohingya died in the first month of violence.

But Myanmar has staunchly denied the charges and blocked United Nations investigators from the conflict zone, souring relations with a host of western allies.

Fresh reports of mass graves and the arrest of two Reuters journalists investigating massacres have piled more pressure on Ms Suu Kyi to condemn the army, who she is in a delicate power sharing arrangement with.

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But the Nobel laureate has refused to change tack and is accused by critics of adopting a siege mentality.

The killings of 10 Rohingya men occurred in the village of Inn Din in September past year and the bodies were buried in a mass grave after they were hacked to death or shot and killed by Buddhist neighbours and Myanmar soldiers. The news agency says they were arrested because of their investigation and called for their release.

Since last August, over 688,000 Rohingya people have fled slaughter in Myanmar to go to Bangladesh, joining around 340,000 Rohingya who had previously fled.

According to a Facebook post by Myanmar's foreign ministry, the pair "discussed in an open and friendly manner the latest developments in Rakhine State, including planning for the reception of returnees who fled".

"I underlined the importance of the Burmese authorities carrying out a full and independent investigation into the violence in Rakhine, and to hold to account those responsible for human rights violations".

Mr Johnson is due to arrive in Bangkok for an official visit on Monday.

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