China supports Myanmar

Sep 12, 2017 04:07 pm

China supports Myanmar

china

Global split over Rohingya crisis as China backs Myanmar crackdown

COX'S BAZAR: International divisions emerged on Tuesday (Sep 12) ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on a worsening refugee crisis in Myanmar, with China voicing support for a military crackdown that has been criticised by the US, slammed as "ethnic cleansing" and forced 370,000 Rohingya to flee the violence.

Beijing's intervention appears aimed at heading off any attempt to censure Myanmar at the council when it convenes on Wednesday.

China was one of the few foreign friends of Myanmar's former military government.

Beijing has tightened its embrace under Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government as part of its giant trade, energy and infrastructure strategy for Southeast Asia.

The exodus from Myanmar's western Rakine state began after Rohingya militants attacked police posts on Aug 25, prompting a military backlash that has sent a third of the Muslim minority population fleeing for their lives.

Exhausted Rohingya refugees have given accounts of atrocities at the hands of soldiers and Buddhist mobs who burned their villages to the ground. They can not be independently verified as access to Rakhine state is heavily controlled.

 

Myanmar's government denies any abuses and instead blames militants for burning down thousands of villages, including many belonging to Rohingya.

But international pressure on Myanmar heightened this week after United Nations rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the violence seemed to be a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

The US also raised alarm over the violence while the Security Council announced it would meet on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

Opprobrium has been heaped Aung Sang Suu Kyi, who was once a darling of the rights community but now faces accusations of turning a blind eye to - and even abetting - a humanitarian catastrophe by Western powers who once feted her as well as a slew of fellow Nobel Laureates.

But Beijing offered more encouraging words to her on Tuesday, with foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang voicing support for her government's efforts to "uphold peace and stability" in Rakhine.

"We condemn the violent attacks which happened in Rakhine state in Myanmar," Geng told a regular news briefing.

"We support Myanmar's efforts in upholding peace and stability in the Rakhine state. We hope order and the normal life there will be recovered as soon as possible," he said.

"We think the international community should support the efforts of Myanmar in safeguarding the stability of its national development."

The Rohingya minority are denied citizenship and have suffered years of persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

"An estimated 370,000 Rohingya have entered Bangladesh," since Aug 25 Joseph Tripura, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, told AFP.

 


Bangladeshi volunteers from the Chhagalnaiya village council distribute food donations to Rohingya Muslim refugees at Naikhongchhari in Chittagong on Sep 10, 2017. (Photo: AFP/Adib Chowdhury)

The real figure may be higher as many new arrivals are still on the move making it difficult to include them in the count, the UN said, adding 60 per cent of refugees are children.

Most are in dire need of food, medical care and shelter after trekking for days through hills and jungles or braving dangerous boat journeys.

In a statement late on Monday Aung San Suu Kyi's foreign ministry defended the military for doing their "legitimate duty to restore stability", saying troops were under orders "to exercise all due restraint, and to take full measures to avoid collateral damage."

Britain and Sweden requested the urgent Security Council meeting amid growing international concern over the ongoing violence. The council met behind closed doors in late August to discuss the violence, but could not agree a formal statement.

'STOP THE TORTURE'

The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has said the latest violence may have left more than 1,000 dead, most of them Rohingya.

Myanmar says the number of dead is around 430, the majority of them "extremist terrorists" from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

It says a further 30,000 ethnic Rakhine and Hindus have been displaced inside northern Rakhine, where aid programmes have been severely curtailed due to the violence.

The exodus of Rohingya has saddled Bangladesh with its own humanitarian crisis, as aid workers scramble to provide food and shelter to a daily stream of bedraggled refugees.

The UN-run refugee camps in its Cox's Bazar district were already packed with Rohingya who had fled from previous waves of persecution.

Dhaka is providing them temporary shelter.

But Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who visited a Rohingya camp on Tuesday, stressed it was up to Myanmar to "resolve" the issue.

"We will request the Myanmar government to stop oppressing innocent people," she said during a tour of a camp in Cox's Bazar, according to local outlet bdnews24.com.

Dhaka, which has refused to permanently absorb the Rohingya, said it plans to build a huge new camp that will house a quarter of a million refugees.

But it remains unclear if or when they will be able to return.

Plumes of smoke continued to rise on the Myanmar side of the border this week despite the militants' announcement on Sunday of a unilateral ceasefire.

There was no direct response from Myanmar's military, though government spokesman Zaw Htay tweeted: "We have no policy to negotiate with terrorists."
Source: AFP/ec

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: Pressure mounted on Myanmar on Tuesday to end violence that has sent about 370,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, with the United States calling for protection of civilians and Bangladesh urging safe zones to enable refugees to go home. But China, which competes for influence in its southern neighbor with the United States, said it backed Myanmar’s efforts to safeguard ‘development and stability’, reported Reuters.

The government of Buddhist-majority Myanmar says its security forces are fighting Rohingya militants behind a surge of violence in Rakhine state that began on Aug 25, and they are doing all they can to avoid harming civilians.

The government says about 400 people have been killed in the fighting, the latest in the western state.

The top U.N. human rights official denounced Myanmar on Monday for conducting a “cruel military operation” against Rohingya, branding it “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

The United States said the violent displacement of the Rohingya showed Myanmar’s security forces were not protecting civilians. Washington has been a staunch supporter of Myanmar’s transition from decades of harsh military rule that is being led by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

“We call on Burmese security authorities to respect the rule of law, stop the violence, and end the displacement of civilians from all communities,” the White House said in a statement.

Myanmar government spokesmen were not immediately available for comment but the foreign ministry said shortly before the U.S. statement was issued that Myanmar was also concerned about the suffering. Its forces were carrying out their legitimate duty to restore order in response to acts of extremism.

“The government of Myanmar fully shares the concern of the international community regarding the displacement and suffering of all communities affected by the latest escalation of violence ignited by the acts of terrorism,” the ministry said in a statement.

Myanmar’s government regards Rohingya as illegal migrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship, even though many Rohingya families have lived there for generations.

Attacks by a Rohingya insurgent group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), on police posts and an army base in the north of Rakhine on Aug 25 provoked the military counter-offensive that refugees say is aimed at pushing Rohingya out of the country.

A similar but smaller wave of attacks by the same insurgents last October also sparked what critics called a heavy-handed response by the security forces that sent 87,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.

Reports from refugees and rights groups paint a picture of widespread attacks on Rohingya villages in the north of Rakhine by the security forces and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, who have put numerous Muslim villages to the torch.

But Myanmar authorities have denied the security forces, or Buddhist civilians, have been setting the fires, instead blaming the insurgents. Nearly 30,000 Buddhist villagers have also been displaced, they say.

‘Stop the violence’

The exodus to Bangladesh shows no sign of slowing with 370,000 the latest estimate, according to a U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman, up from an estimate of 313,000 on the weekend.

Bangladesh was already home to about 400,000 Rohingyas.

Many refugees are hungry and sick, without shelter or clean water in the middle of the rainy season. The United Nations said 200,000 children needed urgent support.

Two emergency flights organized by the U.N. refugee agency arrived in Bangladesh with aid for about 25,000 refugees. More flights are planned with the aim of helping 120,000, a spokesman said.

Worry is also growing about conditions inside Rakhine State, with fears a hidden humanitarian crisis may be unfolding.

Myanmar has rejected a ceasefire declared by ARSA to enable the delivery of aid there, saying it did not negotiate with terrorists.

But Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Myanmar should set up safe zones to enable the refugees to go home.

“Myanmar will have to take back all Rohingya refugees who entered Bangladesh,” Hasina said on a visit to the Cox’s Bazar border district where she distributed aid.

“Myanmar has created the problem and they will have to solve it,” she said. ”We want peaceful relations with our neighbors, but we can’t accept any injustice.

“Stop this violence against innocent people.”

Myanmar has said those who can verify their citizenship can return but most Rohingya are stateless.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, “The international community should support Myanmar in its efforts to safeguard development and stability.”

Pakistan called on Myanmar to stop making “unfulfilled promises”.

In a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Pakistan said, “Discrimination, violence and acts of hatred are intolerable.”