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Time not right for visit, Burma tells UN Security Council

Members of the Security Council gather for a meeting at the United Nations in New York on 19 January 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

Burma told the United Nations Security Council not to visit during February this year because it was “not the right time,” Kuwait’s UN Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi said on Thursday, adding that the country did not completely reject the proposed trip.

Nearly 690,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since 25 August last year after the Burmese military cracked down on insurgents in Rakhine State.

The security forces have been accused by Rohingya witnesses and rights activists of carrying out killings, rapes and arson in Rakhine in a campaign senior officials in the United Nations and United States have described as ethnic cleansing. Burma rejects that label and has denied nearly all the allegations.

Al-Otaibi said he tried to organise a visit to Burma during Kuwait’s presidency of the Security Council in February.

“This visit will not happen in February. Other members of the council might organise such a visit at a later stage, maybe in March or April,” Al-Otaibi said. “They did not reject it … They just think this is not the right time for the visit.”

“They are currently organising a visit for the diplomatic corps in Myanmar to the Rakhine State. They also said that tensions are high in the Rakhine State at the moment, these were the reasons given to us by the Myanmar authorities,” he said.

In November the 15-member Security Council urged the Burmese government to stop the excessive use of military force in Rakhine State and expressed “grave concern over reports of human rights violations and abuses.”

The statement by the council also called on the government to give media organisations full and unhindered access throughout the country to ensure the safety and security of media personnel.

Two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were detained on 12 December and accused of violating the country’s Official Secrets Act. They had worked on Reuters coverage of the crisis in Rakhine State.