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UN Security Council meets on Myanmar violence

Banglar Bir

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UN Security Council meets on Myanmar violence
Britain requested the meeting on Myanmar, but diplomats said China was resisting stronger involvement by the UN council in addressing the crisis.
(AFP/KENA BETANCUR)
31 Aug 2017 05:53AM (Updated: 31 Aug 2017 06:00AM)

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Wednesday (Aug 30) discussed the violence in Myanmar where clashes and a security crackdown by the military in Rakhine state have sent 18,500 Rohingya fleeing across the border into Bangladesh.

There was no formal statement from the 15-member council following the closed-door meeting but British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said there were calls from council members for de-escalation.

"We all condemned the violence, we all called on all the parties to de-escalate," Rycroft told reporters.

The clashes began on Friday after militants from the Rohingya Muslim minority staged deadly surprise raids on police posts.

The violence has left at least 110 people, including 11 state officials, dead and thousands of Rohingya have poured across the border to Bangladesh despite Dhaka's attempts to stop them.

Myanmar's military has been carrying out sweeps for militants, with residents reporting that security forces were torching villages.


Britain requested the meeting on Myanmar, but diplomats said China was resisting stronger involvement by the UN council in addressing the crisis.

It remained unclear whether further action was planned, but the issue is expected to be discussed during the annual gathering of world leaders at the General Assembly in September.

Rycroft said the council still supports Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel prize laureate and democracy icon who now leads the government in Yangon.

"A lot of us are hugely supportive allies of hers who have followed her progress with admiration from afar," he said.

"We look to her to set the right tone and to find the compromises and the de-escalation necessary in order to resolve the conflict for the good of all the people in Burma."

Rycroft pointed to recommendations put forward by former UN chief Kofi Annan calling for an end to restrictions on citizenship and movement imposed on the Rohingyas as a way out of the violence.


Source: AFP/deRead more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news...ity-council-meets-on-myanmar-violence-9172858
 

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Banglar Bir

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Rakhine violence leaves everyone guessing
Larry Jagan, August 29, 2017

Members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) command to the Rohingya people not to cross the canal, who take shelter in No Man’s Land between Bangladesh-Myanmar border, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine erupted into violence on Friday, leaving the government’s efforts to find a solution to the communal tension there in tatters. Insurrection and arson engulfed large areas around Maungdaw and Buttidaung. More than 30 police stations and an army base were attacked in the early hours, by what the government called terrorists and Bengali extremists.

Skirmishes continued over the weekend, and there are fresh reports of clashes between the Myanmar army and police engaged in sporadic fighting with the Muslim attackers all over western Rakhine. However, it is impossible to verify many of these reports, and even the government’s official releases are thin on evidence.

“It’s a classic guerilla operation,” according to regional intelligence experts. “It’s hit and run, intend to cause the greatest confusion and fear.” Clearly it is intended to disrupt and government plans to implement the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission, announced last Thursday. It has changed the debate over sensible measures to reduce communal tension and violence as outlined in the report, to almost only security issues – at least for the time being.

The death toll from the latest widespread attacks staged by the Muslim insurgents has climbed to over a hundred, including nearly 80 alleged “insurgents”, and 12 members of the security forces, according to the government’s press release. Government staff, UN officials and aid workers have been evacuated. Many Rakhine villagers have been relocated to safer positions. Thousands of Muslim villagers have also fled the fighting, with nearly 90,000 trying to flee across into Bangladesh since Friday.

Regional Asian intelligence sources believe substantial funds have been poured in the Rohingya areas – largely through Mae Sot. But senior Myanmar intelligence officials are certain the arms – from Thailand — are being transported on fishing ships to Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh from Ranong, the hub of much of the human trafficking previously. Myanmar’s intelligence sources believe substantial weapons, including shoulder launchers – RPGs – are stockpiled in Bangladesh.

The international community is now firmly fixed on Myanmar and the increasing communal violence. The west’s position is clear, use restraint. They stress the need to avoid escalating the violence, and use peaceful means to address the root causes of the communal tension and violence. They all endorse the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission as the way forward: the US, EU and ASEAN parliamentarians endorse the recommendations as the starting point.

One of the members of the commission, the seasoned Dutch diplomat Laetitia van den Assum responded to earlier comments on Rakhine, by saying that recent violence in fact makes the recommendation even more important. “Ignoring them can only worsen an increasing fragile situation,” she said.

Kofi Annan also took a strident view, in response to the initial outbreak of violence on Friday. “I strongly urge all communities and groups to reject violence. After years of insecurity and instability, it should be clear that violence is not the solution to the challenges facing Rakhine State,” said in a statement released on Friday. Ang San Suu Kyi also reiterated this view in an early statement condemning the violence. The current administration remains committed to “finding meaningful and lasting solutions for conflict-torn Rakhine,” she said.

But the horrendous carnage and brutality have obscured the political context. For the moment, understandably security issues predominate. Although the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army claim to be behind these current attacks, and took credit for the earlier attacks in October against the Border Guard Forces, leaving 9 dead, little is known about them.

The Rohingyas are trained in camps on the outskirts of Cox’s Bazaar funded by Qatar, according to one of Myanmar’s most senior intelligence officers.

Asia intelligence sources believe there are other more sinister hands behind them. Originally it was believed that some 500 Rohingya militants may have been trained in Bangladesh and in Rakhine, in the Mayu mountain range. But the figure been reported estimate the Muslim fighters to be more than a 1,000 strong – but there is no independent verification of numbers.

Regional Asian intelligence sources believe substantial funds have been poured in the Rohingya areas – largely through Mae Sot. But senior Myanmar intelligence officials are certain the arms – from Thailand — are being transported on fishing ships to Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh from Ranong, the hub of much of the human trafficking previously. Myanmar’s intelligence sources believe substantial weapons, including shoulder launchers – RPGs – are stockpiled in Bangladesh

The Rohingyas are trained in camps on the outskirts of Cox’s Bazaar funded by Qatar, according to one of Myanmar’s most senior intelligence officers. Originally regional intelligence sources believed that Saudi funds were being used. And then the fighters are infiltrated into Myanmar. Further training is conducted in the Mayu mountains.

As yet no intelligence source is prepared to speculate who might be behind the recently formed Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which has claimed responsibility for the October attacks and the latest offensive. But all intelligence agencies in Asia and the West are preoccupied with tracing IS connections. As IS is on the retreat – in Syria and the Middle East – Myanmar provides a soft-target they surmise. Any attacks in this area are getting instant international attention and coverage – but the fact that they have not as yet claimed responsibility for them, has some intelligence experts dismissing claims that they are actually behind them and the attacks.

But there seems little doubt that there is a hidden black hand behind these attacks. They are clearly intended to destabilize the government, cause increased dissension between Buddhist and Muslims and create a massive environment of fear. It is one, which no group in Myanmar can benefit from, including the military. But the Tatmadaw and the government have to tread lightly in their security responses, and not acerbate the situation. Returning to the Kofi Annan Commission’s recommendations would be a good start. A peaceful solution has to be found.

Of course, the current fear is that attackers will become more adventurous and launch assaults on tourist attractions. Kofi Annan recommended Mrauk U as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status. This makes Myanmar’s intelligence chiefs fear that this may just prompt the “terrorist” to take aim at it. Some specialists even fear they won’t stop there – and will attack other tourist venues, even in Yangon. The security forces will have to prevent this, or the whole country will be up in arms, communal violence spurred throughout the country.

But the battle between Aung San Suu Kyi and the commander in chief, Min Aung Hlaing is increasing now over the militarization of Rakhine. The army – and local Buddhist politicians – want a ‘state of emergency’ declared in Rakhine – especially in the wake of the latest “terrorist” attacks. The State Counselor has repeatedly resisted this, according to government insiders, although limited curfews have been imposed in some areas. But her resistance maybe on the verge of caving in, something human rights activists suggest would give the army carte blanche in Rakhine. And provide a clear recipe for disaster, and a convenient pretext for a military coup.
http://southasianmonitor.com/2017/08/29/rakhine-violence-leaves-everyone-guessing/
 

Banglar Bir

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Around 27,400 Rohingyas flee into Bangladesh from Myanmar: UN sources
Reuters | Published: 13:09, Aug 31,2017 | Updated: 13:21, Aug 31,2017

New Rohingya refugees arrive near the Kutupalang makeshift Refugee Camp, in Cox’s Bazar August 30, 2017. — Reuters photo

Around 27,400 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence in Myanmar during the past week and a further 20,000 are marooned in no man's land between the two countries, three UN sources said on Thursday.

Bangladeshi border guards on Thursday recovered the bodies of 20 Rohingya women and children whose boat capsized as they fled Myanmar.
http://www.newagebd.net/article/231...-flee-into-bangladesh-from-myanmar-un-sources
 

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