Myanmar’s Rohingya campaign ‘may be crime against humanity’

Written by | December 19, 2016 | 0

The treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims by the country’s military, including allegations of rape and helicopter gunships firing randomly on villages, may constitute crimes against humanity, Amnesty International has said.

South-east Asian foreign ministers met in Yangon on Monday for emergency talks about the two-month campaign against a nascent insurgency, during which time Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has failed to respond to international criticism.

More than 27,000 people from the ethnic group have fled to Bangladesh, leading to an open spat within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), a regional 10-member bloc.

Malaysia, where most of the population is Muslim, has called for an independent investigation into the allegations and for complete humanitarian access to the locked-down area in Rakhine state, where more than 130,000 people are without aid.

Malaysia’s foreign minister, Anifah Aman, warned that the crackdown could trigger a repeat of last year’s boat crisis, when thousands of starving Rohingya were abandoned at sea.

“We believe that the situation is now of a regional concern and should be resolved together,” he told the meeting, according to a statement released by Kuala Lumpur.

“Myanmar must do more in trying to address the root causes of this problem,” he added.

This month, Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, said “the world cannot sit by and watch genocide taking place”, opening a rift within Asean, which normally maintains a diplomatic tone among members.

Myanmar, which denies allegations of abuse, summoned Malaysia’s ambassador and banned its workers from going to the country.

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