The Latest: India urges Myanmar to act with restraint
Posted September 10
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh — The Latest on violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state and the flood of ethnic Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh (all times local):
India has urged Myanmar to handle the situation in its Rakhine state with restraint following the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees into neighboring Bangladesh.
In New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs has expressed India's deep concern about the situation in Rakhine, where Myanmar's security forces have launched counterinsurgency "clearance operations" that refugees say have resulted in indiscriminate killings and massive displacement.
India urged that the situation in Rakhine be handled "with restraint and maturity, focusing on the welfare of the civilian population alongside those of the security forces." It says it's "imperative that violence is ended and normalcy in the state restored expeditiously."
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Myanmar on Wednesday, when he discussed the security situation with Myanmar's leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi.
Rohingya insurgents have declared a monthlong truce in order to allow humanitarian aid into Myanmar's Rakhine state, where military "cleansing operations" have left hundreds dead and forced nearly 300,000 to flee into neighboring Bangladesh.
The ragtag band of Muslim insurgents calling itself the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army issued the truce statement on its Twitter account, which is how it generally communicates. It urged Myanmar's government forces to reciprocate to assist all victims regardless of their background.
The government did not comment immediately.
The rebels' first known attacks on security posts last October and again on Aug. 25 drew savage military reprisals. According to Rohingya refugees, entire villages were burned to the ground and hundreds of civilians killed. The government said most of the 400 dead were "terrorists."
Analysts blame Myanmar's government for the conditions that led to the group's creation. The Rohingya minority is denied basic rights and citizenship.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry says it has summoned Myanmar's ambassador to protest violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
In a statement, the ministry said Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua met Saturday with U Win Myint and asked that Myanmar take effective measures to prevent more violence against the Rohingya.
It said Janjua also called for upholding Rohingyas' "right to live and move without fear and discrimination."
The statement said Win Myint assured Janjua that he would convey Pakistan's concerns to his government.
The development comes a day after more than 1,500 supporters of an Islamist political party rallied in Islamabad, demanding Win Myint's expulsion.
The spiritual leader of Islam's majority Sunnis has blasted Myanmar for the "massacres" against Rohingya Muslims, calling for swift political and economic pressure by the international community on the Buddhist-majority nation.
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the world's foremost seat of Sunni Islamic learning, also warned in a televised statement aired from Cairo on Friday that violence against the Rohingya encourages "terrorist crimes," a reference to Islamic militancy.
Using uncustomary strong language, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb also blasted Myanmar leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi without naming her, saying she held the Nobel Peace Prize she won in 1991 with one hand and condoned "crimes" with the other.
Al-Tayeb called on rights groups to investigate war crimes committed against the Rohingya and refer perpetrators to the International Court of Justice.
The U.N. refugee agency says the number of Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar since Aug. 25 is now estimated at roughly 290,000.
UNHCR spokeswoman Vivian Tan says the number of people arriving continues to grow. She says with camps already "more than full," the new arrivals are setting up spontaneous settlements along roadsides or on any available patches of land.
She says there is an urgent need for more temporary shelters.
She says: "We are seeing the mushrooming of these very flimsy shelters that will not be able to house people for too long."
The U.N. has asked Bangladesh authorities to make more land available so they can build new relief camps.
Rohingya refugees packed into camps and makeshift settlements in Bangladesh are becoming desperate for scant basic resources and dwindling supplies.
Fights are erupting over food and water. Women and children are rubbing their bellies and begging for food.
U.N. agencies estimate that more than a quarter-million Rohingya Muslims have flooded into the region in just the last two weeks. Many were initially stunned and traumatized after fleeing violence that erupted Aug. 25 in Myanmar's Rakhine state. They are now growing desperate in searching for food distribution points that appeared only in recent days, passing out packets of biscuits and 25-kilogram (55-pound) bags of rice.
One aid worker who asked not to be identified says "stocks are running out" with the refugees' needs far greater than what they'd imagined.