Britain calls on Aung San Suu Kyi to act on ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Rohingya in Myanmar
Foreign Office minister Mark Field said the situation in Buddhist-majority Myanmar is “unacceptable,” and called on the Nobel Peace Prize-winner to heed recommendations by the UN to stop what it has described as the “textbook example of an ethnic cleansing.”
Following a meeting with Suu Kyi ahead of a visit to the northern Rahkine State, the center of the conflict, Field, who is Britain’s minister for Asia, said: “What we have seen in Rakhine in the past few weeks is an absolute and unacceptable tragedy.
“We need the violence to stop and all those who have fled to be able to return to their homes quickly and safely.
“During my meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi and others, I strongly emphasized the need for Burma [Myanmar] to heed the [UN] Security Council’s call to end violence and allow humanitarian access to those in need of aid.
“Burma has taken great strides forward in recent years. But the ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis in Rakhine risks derailing that progress,” he added.
It comes after the UK recently announced it will halt training of the armed forces in Myanmar until the military ends its offensive against the Muslim community.
The military’s latest campaign against the Rohingya was triggered by a militant assault on a police post in northern Rakhine on August 25 which killed 12 security personnel.
According to UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, however, the military counter-offensive is “clearly disproportionate” to the insurgent attack.
More than 300,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh in the past two weeks amid claims of burnt villages and extrajudicial killings.
Despite Rohingyas having lived in the predominantly-Buddhist country since the 12th century, they remain a stateless community as Myanmar’s law fails to acknowledge the minority group.
Speaking at the UN in New York last week, British Prime Minister Theresa May told Sky News: “We are very concerned about what’s happening to the Rohingya people in Burma.
“The military action against them must stop.
“We’ve seen too many vulnerable people having to flee for their lives.
“Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese government need to make it very clear that the military action should stop.
“The British Government is announcing today that we are going to stop all defense engagement and training of the Burmese military by the Ministry of Defence until this issue is resolved.”