Members of the US Congress said on Tuesday operations carried out against the Rohingya Muslims in Burma had “all the hallmarks” of ethnic cleansing, while the country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi expressed doubts about allegations of rights abuses.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Wednesday for a credible investigation into reports of human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims committed by Burma’s security forces after a meeting with its civilian and military leaders.
Human rights groups pour scorn on a Burmese military investigation into alleged atrocities against Rohingya Muslims, branding it a “whitewash” and calling for UN and independent investigators to be allowed into the country.
The United Nations Security Council urges the Burmese government to “ensure no further excessive use of military force in Rakhine State,” where violence has forced more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee the Buddhist-majority Southeast Asian nation.
Proposed US sanctions targeting Burma’s military for its treatment of Rohingya Muslims would hinder the fledgling civilian government sharing power with the generals, a spokesman for de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Friday.
A Shan State court on Friday sentenced two Kachin pastors to harsh multi-year prison sentences after they were caught up in conflict in Muse Township, with the two men found guilty of all charges brought against them, including “unlawful association.”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke on Thursday with Burma’s army chief and expressed concern over reported atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State, the US State Department said in a statement.
Hundreds of party faithful rallied at a staging grounds in Taungoo on Saturday morning in a show of support for beleaguered State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy’s longtime figurehead.
Burma’s military has launched an internal probe into the conduct of soldiers during a counteroffensive that has sent more than half a million Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, many saying they witnessed killings, rape and arson by troops.
Aung San Suu Kyi announces the creation of yet another body with the challenging portfolio of improving the situation in crisis-stricken Arakan State, saying it would include a broad spectrum of actors, both domestic and foreign.
Western trade and investment in Burma is small, but there were hopes that reforms would prise open an economy stunted by international sanctions and decades of mismanagement under military rule. That now appears to be on hold.
The US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday he had spoken with Aung San Suu Kyi and that she said she was working to get aid to the Muslim areas in Arakan State that were affected by violence.
Hackers targeted several government websites this week, according to state media, apparently in retaliation for Burma’s treatment of the country’s Muslim minority, as international attention on the plight of the Rohingya in Arakan State intensifies.
Two blasts rocked an area in Burma near the Bangladeshi border on Monday, accompanied by the sound of gunfire and thick black smoke, as violence that has sent nearly 90,000 Muslim Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh showed no sign of easing.
The formal withdrawal of charges in the high-profile “unlawful association” case involving three journalists and three others in Shan State’s Hsipaw Township was postponed on Monday, with the legal bureaucracy delaying their official exoneration for another several days.
Nearly 90,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since violence erupted in Burma in August, pressuring scarce resources of aid agencies and communities already helping hundreds of thousands of refugees from previous spasms of violence in Burma.
Thousands of fearful Rohingya Muslims and Arakanese Buddhist civilians have fled the worst fighting to grip Burma’s northwest in five years, with 104 people killed and the United Nations and international aid groups forced to pull out some staff.
Burma’s government said it has evacuated at least 4,000 non-Muslim villagers amid ongoing clashes in northwestern Arakan State, as thousands more Rohingya Muslims sought to flee across the border to Bangladesh on Sunday.
About 1,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing escalating violence in Burma had been halted at the border with Bangladesh, Bangladeshi security officials said on Saturday, as fresh fighting erupted in Burma’s northwestern Arakan State.
Muslim militants in Burma staged a coordinated attack on 30 police posts and an army base in Arakan State on Friday, and at least 59 of the insurgents and 12 members of the security forces were killed, the army and government said.
Burma rejects allegations of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing during a crackdown against Rohingya Muslims last year, accusing the United Nations of making exaggerated claims in its report on the issue.
The trial of three journalists and three other men accused of “unlawful association” with an ethnic armed group began in earnest on Friday, with a court in Hsipaw Township, Shan State, taking testimony from the case’s plaintiff, an army major.