Tatmadaw exonerates itself of alleged atrocities, rights groups scoff

Tatmadaw exonerates itself of alleged atrocities, rights groups scoff

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that his country was deeply concerned by "credible reports" of atrocities committed by Myanmar's security forces and called for an independent investigation into a humanitarian crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya flee to Bangladesh.

"The non-interference policy is - in the words of Aung San Suu Kyi herself - just an excuse for not helping.

Rohingya refugees need preventative and proactive action now to mitigate risks of human trafficking, and the survivors need help, before this spirals out of control".

In a report on Monday, the military said it had "abided by laws" during the "security operations" in northern Rakhine state, prompting global rights groups to clan that it is whitewashing ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity targeting the Rohingya. "They killed Hindus and other ethnic minorities".

The failure of ASEAN leaders to confront the root causes of the ongoing crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine State constitutes a blow to the regional bloc's credibility, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said today, following the conclusion of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila.

When Aung San Suu Kyi met United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the conference on Tuesday, he stressed that the Rohingya refugees should be allowed to voluntarily return to Myanmar and that the government should increase efforts to ensure humanitarian access to the areas affected by violence.

Suu Kyi said it was most important to bring peace and stability Myanmar, but that should only be done on the basis of rule of law.

Myanmar's army released a report on Monday denying all allegations of rape and killings by security forces, having days earlier replaced the general in charge of the operation that drove over 607,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.

Aung San Suu Kyi
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu KyiReuters

Some U.S. senators are now pursuing legislation to impose economic and travel sanctions on the armed forces and their business interests.

Stressing the importance of holding to account those responsible for human rights abuses and violations, the Security Council statement called for the Government of Myanmar to co-operate with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The military said that its report was based on interviews with 3,217 Rohingya villagers, whose citizenship has not been recognized in the country and were referred to in the report as "Bengalis".

Myanmar says it has trucked in workers from other parts of the state to harvest 70,000 acres of abandoned rice paddies.

"The security forces were only fighting against the ARSA Bengali terrorists".

The United Nations humanitarian office said Tuesday that the number of Rohingya who have fled Burma for Bangladesh since August 25 has risen to 618,000.

"After that, Myanmar will accept refugees back by forming joint committees", he said.

"And we will continue to play a leading role in bringing the worldwide community together - working through the United Nations and with regional partners to do everything possible to stop this appalling and in human destruction of the Rohingya people". Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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