Thu, Sep 07, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Myanmar plays diplomatic card to avert UN censure

Reuters, YANGON, Myanmar, and SHAMLAPUR, Bangladesh

A Rohingya girl sits next to her mother, who is resting after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, in Teknaf, Bangladesh, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Myanmar yesterday said it is negotiating with China and Russia to ensure they block any UN Security Council censure over the violence that has forced an exodus of nearly 150,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh in less than two weeks.

Burmese State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi blamed “terrorists” for “a huge iceberg of misinformation” on the strife in the northwestern state of Rakhine, but made no mention of the Rohingya who have fled in a statement issued by her office.

She has come under increasing pressure from nations with Muslim populations, including Indonesia, where thousands, led by Muslim groups, yesterday held a rally in Jakarta to demand that diplomatic ties with Buddhist-majority Myanmar be cut.

In a rare letter to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern that the violence could spiral into a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

Guterres said there was a risk of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar that could destabilize the region.

Burmese National Security Adviser Thaung Tun told a news conference in the capital, Naypyitaw, that Myanmar was counting on China and Russia to block a UN resolution on the crisis.

“We are negotiating with some friendly countries not to take it to the Security Council,” he said. “China is our friend and we have a similar friendly relationship with Russia, so it will not be possible for that issue to go forward.”

Reporters in the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh have witnessed boatloads of exhausted Rohingya arriving near the border village of Shamlapur.

According to the latest estimates issued by UN workers operating there, arrivals in just 12 days stood at 146,000, bringing to 233,000 the total number of Rohingya who have sought refuge in Bangladesh since October last year.

Newly arrived Rohingya told authorities that three boats carrying more than 100 people capsized early yesterday.

Bangladeshi Coast Guard Commander M.S. Kabir said six bodies had washed ashore.

Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday spoke by telephone with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has pressed world leaders to do more to help a population of about 1.1 million he said are facing genocide.

In a statement issued by her office on Facebook, Aung San Suu Kyi said the government had “already started defending all the people in Rakhine in the best way possible” and warned against misinformation that could mar relations with other countries.

She referred to images on Twitter of killings posted by Turkey’s deputy prime minister, which he later deleted because they were not from Myanmar.

“She said that kind of fake information which was inflicted on the deputy prime minister was simply the tip of a huge iceberg of misinformation calculated to create a lot of problems between different countries and with the aim of promoting the interests of the terrorists,” her office said in a statement.

Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said he shared Myanmar’s concern about “extremist violence” in Rakhine state.

Modi’s government has taken a strong stance on an influx into India of about 40,000 Rohingya from Myanmar over the years, vowing last month to deport them all.

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