Sunday, 25 February 2018

Violence must stop, UK minister urges Myanmar

Mark Field

LONDON: Foreign Office minister Mark Field has told Aung San Suu Kyi to end violence in Rakhine State and grant full humanitarian access.

But Mr Field said the country’s de facto leader was in a “difficult position”, with public opinion in Myanmar “strongly anti-Rohingya”.

And Aung San Suu Kyi was Myanmar’s “best hope for ongoing democracy”.

More than 400,000 Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh amid reports of military atrocities.

Ms Suu Kyi, the former political prisoner who has been Myanmar’s civilian leader since winning elections in 2015, is under growing international pressure over her handling of the crisis.

In a speech on Tuesday, the Nobel Prize winner condemned human rights abuses but did not blame the army or address allegations of ethnic cleansing.

Mr Field held face-to-face talks in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, becoming the first foreign minister from outside the region to meet Aung San Suu Kyi since the crisis began, and visited Bangladesh on Thursday to see the relief effort there.

Speaking on Wednesday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn appealed to Aung San Suu Kyi, as a “champion of democracy and human rights”, to act now to put a stop to the violence.

“The Rohingya have suffered for too long,” he told activists at his party’s conference.

A stateless mostly Muslim minority in Buddhist-majority Rakhine, the Rohingya have long experienced persecution.

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