For­mer UN chief Kofi An­nan ‘deeply con­cerned’ over Myan­mar vi­o­lence

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

YAN­GON: For­mer UN chief Kofi An­nan has ex­pressed “deep con­cern” over vi­o­lence in Myan­mar’s Rakhine state where the mil­i­tary killed dozens of peo­ple over the week­end, send­ing hun­dreds of Ro­hingya flee­ing to Bangladesh.

The mil­i­tary has locked down a strip of land along the bor­der, an area largely home to the op­pressed Mus­lim mi­nor­ity, since deadly raids on po­lice posts last month. The army says troops have killed nearly 70 peo­ple as they hunt the at­tack­ers, who they say are rad­i­calised Ro­hingya mil­i­tants with links to over­seas Is­lamists.

Ac­tivists say the toll could be much higher, ac­cus­ing troops of shoot­ing un­armed civil­ians, rap­ing women and torch­ing homes, but the army has stopped independent ob­servers from in­ves­ti­gat­ing the claims.

An­nan called for an end to the blood­shed in a state­ment re­leased as seven mem­bers of a com­mis­sion he heads on Rakhine held talks with lo­cal of­fi­cials in state cap­i­tal Sittwe. “I wish to ex­press my deep con­cern over the re­cent vi­o­lence in north­ern Rakhine State, which is plung­ing the state into re­newed in­sta­bil­ity and cre­at­ing new dis­place­ment,” he said in a state­ment late Tues­day. “All com­mu­ni­ties must re­nounce vi­o­lence and I urge the se­cu­rity ser­vices to act in full com­pli­ance with the rule of law.”

Yes­ter­day the com­mis­sion mem­bers will head to vil­lages hit by the un­rest. The US is also “con­cerned by re­ports of a spike in vi­o­lence” in Rakhine, US State Depart­ment spokes­woman El­iz­a­beth Trudeau said in Wash­ing­ton, urg­ing the govern­ment to al­low a “cred­i­ble and independent in­ves­ti­ga­tion”.

Days of ap­par­ent calm were shat­tered over the week­end when troops killed more than 30 peo­ple in two days of fight­ing that saw the mil­i­tary bring in he­li­copter gun­ships for the first time. The surge in fight­ing sent around 200 Ro­hingya flee­ing to the Bangladesh bor­der, ac­cord­ing to com­mu­nity lead­ers, who said they have been left stranded after bor­der guards pushed them back.

150,000 with­out aid

One com­man­der said the group, which ar­rived on Mon­day, was the largest num­ber of Ro­hingya pushed back since vi­o­lence erupted in Rakhine in early Oc­to­ber. Some 15,000 peo­ple have been dis­placed by the un­rest and 150,000 from the deeply im­pov­er­ished area have been with­out hu­man­i­tar­ian aid for more than a month, ac­cord­ing to the UN Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs.

The resur­gence of vi­o­lence in Rakhine has deep­ened a cri­sis that has al­ready threat­ened to de­rail to the new ad­min­is­tra­tion led by democ­racy ac­tivist Aung San Suu Kyi. The democ­racy cham­pion ap­pointed fel­low No­bel lau­re­ate An­nan to over­see a com­mis­sion charged with find­ing ways to heal wounds in the poor west­ern state.

Rakhine has siz­zled with re­li­gious ten­sion ever since waves of vi­o­lence be­tween the ma­jor­ity Bud­dhist pop­u­la­tion and the Mus­lim Ro­hingya left more than 100 dead in 2012.

SITTWE MYAN­MAR: Mem­bers of the multi-sec­tor ad­vi­sory com­mis­sion on Myan­mar’s Rakhine State, Win Mra (C) and Khin Maung Lay (R) are es­corted by an armed po­lice­man dur­ing a visit to a Ro­hingya camp yes­ter­day.

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