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

15 November 2017, 12:25 | Winifred Adams

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In a recent report, United Nations investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

The report contradicts consistent statements from ethnic Rohingya Muslim refugees now in Bangladesh - some with gunshot wounds and severe burns - who have described massacres, rape, looting and the burning of hundreds of villages by Burma's army and civilian mobs.

"Secretary Tillerson's visit must be used to recognize the tragedy for what it is, ethnic cleansing, and to pressure the Myanmar government and in particular Myanmar's military to address the crimes against humanity that are taking place", said Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International, in a statement.

Amnesty International's regional director for Southeast Asia James Gomez said in a statement that "once again, Myanmar's military is trying to sweep serious violations against the Rohingya under the carpet ... it has no intention of ensuring accountability - it's now up to the worldwide community to step up to ensure these appalling abuses do not go unpunished".

The army said 376 "terrorists" were killed in fighting after the August attacks.

"The Burmese military's absurd effort to absolve itself of mass atrocities underscores why an independent worldwide investigation is needed to establish the facts and identify those responsible", Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Aye Lwin, a member of the government-appointed Advisory Commission on Rakhine State led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan noted that State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has been working on implementing the commission's recommendations and repatriating refugees living in displacement camps in Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi discussed the Rohingya crisis with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during the Southeast Asian summit in Manila.

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

"It's a major humanitarian crisis".

The government in mostly Buddhist Burma regards the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

The Nobel peace prize victor has failed to speak out strongly over the Rohingya's plight.

Many diplomats, however, believe Burma's fragile transition to democracy after 49 years of military rule would be jeopardised if she publicly criticised the armed forces.

An image which appears to show Burmese army officers interviewing a villager in Maungtaw region of Rakhine State, Burma. "Those responsible for abuses must be held accountable", Adams said. Scores of people were killed in the ensuing military crackdown, and there are widespread allegations of villages being burned and Rohingya being driven out.

"After recording countless stories of horror and using satellite analysis to track the growing devastation we can only reach one conclusion: These attacks amount to crimes against humanity".

Myanmar authorities gave Bangladesh a list with the names of 1,000 people deemed terrorists during a six-day conference on security and law enforcement between the Myanmar Police Force and Border Guard Bangladesh, which began on Monday in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw.



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