Demands Myanmar end Rohingya violence

  • 23/09/2017
Aung San Suu Kyi.
Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo credit: Getty

The US wants Myanmar to take urgent action to end violence in Rakhine state, where a military offensive has created a crisis that could jeopardise its economic and political transition, a US official says.

Bangladesh and aid organisations are struggling to help 422,000 Rohingya Muslims who have arrived since August 25, when attacks by Rohingya militants triggered a Myanmar crackdown that the United Nations has branded ethnic cleansing.

A senior UN official said an estimated US$200 million would be needed to help the refugees in Bangladesh for six months.

"We think, urgently, actions need to be taken to stop this violence and facilitate humanitarian assistance, lower the rhetoric, lower the tension and... start doing the hard work to solve the longer-standing problems," US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Murphy told reporters on Friday.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has faced international criticism over the plight of the Rohingya, for not speaking out more forcefully against the violence or doing more to rein in security forces over which she has little power.

Tension between majority Buddhists and Rohingya has simmered for decades in Rakhine but it has exploded several times in the past few years as old enmities, and Buddhist nationalism, surfaced with the end of decades of military rule.

Murphy, who spent three days in Myanmar this week, said there were "many points of responsibility" and he wanted to see everyone follow through on commitments Ms Suu Kyi made to uphold rights and the law in an address to the nation on Tuesday.

Myanmar dismisses accusations of ethnic cleansing, saying it has to tackle the insurgents, whom it accuses of setting fires and attacking civilians as well as the security forces.

India fights off refugee influx

India has stepped up security along its largely porous eastern border with Bangladesh and is using "chilli and stun grenades" to block the entry of Rohingya Muslims.

Border forces in Hindu-majority India, which wants to deport about 40,000 Rohingya already living in the country, citing security risks, have been authorised to use "rude and crude" methods to stop any infiltration attempts.

"We don't want to cause any serious injury or arrest them but we won't tolerate Rohingya on Indian soil," a senior border security official said on Friday.

"We're using grenades containing chilli spray to stop hundreds of Rohingyas trying to enter India... the situation is tense."