Myanmar urges Rohingya to hunt insurgents

  • 04/09/2017
Rohingya Muslims make their way through muddy water after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
Rohingya Muslims make their way through muddy water after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

Myanmar is urging Muslims in the troubled northwest to cooperate in the search for insurgents, whose coordinated attacks on security posts and an army crackdown have led to one of the deadliest bouts of violence to engulf the Rohingya community in decades.

The treatment of Buddhist-majority Myanmar's roughly 1.1 million Muslim Rohingya is the biggest challenge facing leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aid agencies estimate that about 73,000 Rohingya have fled into neighbouring Bangladesh in the last week, while clashes have killed nearly 400 people during the past week.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo sent his foreign minister to Myanmar to urge its government to halt violence against Rohingya Muslims while Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that violence against Muslims amounted to genocide.

It marks a dramatic escalation of a conflict that has simmered since October, when a smaller Rohingya attack on security posts prompted a military response.

Islamic villagers were urged to cooperate as security forces searched for Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army fighters, a report in state-run newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar said on Sunday.

ARSA has been declared a terrorist organisation by the government and claimed responsibility for last week's attacks.

While Myanmar officials blamed the ARSA for the burning of homes, Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh and human rights watchers say that a campaign of arson and killings by the army is trying to force out the minority group.

In Bangladesh, authorities said that at least 53 bodies of Rohingya had either been found floating in the Naf river or washed up on the beach in the past week.

A senior leader of al-Qaeda's Yemeni branch has called for attacks on Myanmar authorities in support of the Rohingya.

In Indonesia, home to the world's biggest Muslim population, a petrol bomb was thrown at the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta on Sunday, causing a small fire.

Separately, hundreds protested in Jakarta, calling on the Indonesian government to take an active role in bringing a halt to human rights violations against the Rohingya.