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Myanmar Military Exoneration of Rohingya Crimes is 'Laughable,' 'Pathetic': HRW

15 November 2017

The members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued a draft statement that failed to mention the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state during the annual East Asia Summit in Manila, Reuters reported.

It said it had found no instances where its soldiers had shot and killed Rohingya villagers, raped women or tortured prisoners.

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.

The terms of the military's probe were exceptionally narrow.

Suu Kyi has said that any alleged atrocities should be substantiated and investigated, while her government is working to stabilise Rakhine in order for the Rohingyas to return. However, in keeping with ASEAN's principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of one another, the issue appears to have been put aside at the summit.

Both Tillerson and Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of a less than two-year-old civilian administration that has no control over the military, are attending a regional 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.

In his meeting with Myanmar's State Counselor, the UN Secretary-General highlighted the need for allowing the return of displaced Muslims who have fled to neighboring Bangladesh.

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

British Prime Minister Theresa May said in foreign policy address on Monday that Myanmar's military should be called to account.

Noting that some Rohingya refugees have been trafficked outside Bangladesh, Millman said: "Most of the trafficking is taking place inside the country, which follows the pattern of trafficking globally". "It is a worrying escalation in a protracted tragedy and a potential source of instability in the region", he said.

"It's a major humanitarian crisis".

The United Nations welcomes constructive approaches by ASEAN, including the provision of humanitarian aid to northern Rakhine.

While world leaders wrung their hands, thousands of Rohingya remained stranded in Myanmar, on beaches around the mouth of the Naf river, hoping to find a boat to make the short, sometimes perilous crossing to Bangladesh.

In a related development, Bangladeshi authorities on Tuesday handed over four Rohingya "terrorists" to Myanmar, said Police Colonel Aung Htay Myint of the Myanmar Police Force's Transnational Crime Department.

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Myanmar Military Exoneration of Rohingya Crimes is 'Laughable,' 'Pathetic': HRW