Tillerson speaks to Suu Kyi on Myanmar refugees

Posted September 20, 2017

More than 400,000 Rohingya have fled for neighboring Bangladesh since Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar police and paramilitary posts in late August.

With almost half of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim population having fled the country in the past three weeks, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the crisis publicly for the first time - and called it a mystery. The speech Tuesday was her first national address since August 25, when an insurgent group calling itself the Arakan Rohingya Solidarity Army attacked police and army posts in the western state of Rakhine, killing about 12 security personnel.

He also said members of his team were in Bangladesh, adding, "We hope to have a preliminary report soon — in the coming one week or 10 days".

Promila Sheel, 25, said she chose to flee to Bangladesh after her husband was killed by militia. "This is more of the same from Aung San Suu Kyi who calls for calm but fails to call out the military for the human rights violations they continue to commit in Rakhine state".

Suu Kyi sought to assure foreign diplomats gathered for her speech in Naypyitaw, the capital, that those who fled to Bangladesh would be allowed to return if they passed a "verification" process.

"In light of the ongoing violence in Burma's Rakhine State, the growing humanitarian crisis it has caused, and our deep concern about the human rights abuses that are taking place, we have made a decision to suspend the educational courses provided to the Burmese military until there is an acceptable resolution to the current situation", the spokesman said in a statement.

"We don't have proper documents, it's very hard to prove", said Mohammed Faruque, a long-term refugee, who has lived in the Kutupalong camp since 1991, when his father brought him as a one-year-old boy.

Thus, it becomes unclear whether she referred to the state's entire population, or specifically the Rohingya population, who have been disproportionally affected by recent violence according to the United Nations and others. That would effectively bar the stateless Rohingya, who are now denied any legal status in Myanmar, have at various times had their documents confiscated by authorities, and fled to Bangladesh in most cases without collecting their belongings.

"While it was positive to hear Aung San Suu Kyi condemn human rights violations in Rakhine state, she is still silent about the role of the security forces in this", James Gomez, Amnesty International's regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement.

Following the speech, she held a two-hour closed-door meeting with worldwide diplomats who she has invited to visit Rakhine provided security is deemed to be sufficient to "see for yourselves".

"After she came out of jail, Aung San Suu Kyi became part of the government, when they formed the government, after that the torture started (of Rohingya)". If Rohingya are proven wrong that they were attacked, he said, "we will not mind if the world decides to kill us all by pushing us into the sea".

Earlier this month, the Myanmar government had said 176 out of 471, or 37.4% of all Rohingya villages were empty of people, and an additional 34 villages were "partially abandoned".

There is overwhelming evidence that security forces are engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing. But to do so would risk going against the will of her own people, and might even motivate the military to replace her.