Tillerson to visit Myanmar amid violence against Muslim minority

ABCNews.com
ABCNews.com

(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is heading to Myanmar amid continued hostilities towards Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine province.

His visit comes after spending several days with President Donald Trump at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Manila, Philippines.

According to senior State Department officials, Tillerson plans to push for a democratic transition in Myanmar and call on Burmese lawmakers to resolve conflict and stop the displacement in the Rakhine state.

Tillerson’s visit comes during what United Nations officials have described as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

The ethnic group has faced oppression in the predominantly Buddhist area for years. However, since August 25, when a group of Rohingya Muslim insurgents known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army launched attacks on Burmese authorities, the retaliatory crackdown has been brutal, U.N. officials said, with allegations of killings, rape and widespread violence, causing an estimated 600,000 Rohingya to seek refuge in Bangladesh.

Last week, the United Nations Security Council called upon the government of Myanmar to ensure no further excessive use of military force in Rakhine State, to restore civil administration and apply rule of law, and to take immediate steps in accordance with their obligations and commitments to respect human rights.

In a report on its Facebook page, the Myanmar Military cleared itself of any role in the abuse of the Rohingya, reporting that the atrocities are at the hands of ARSA Bengali terrorists. Human rights organization Amnesty International has slammed the military’s report, labeling it an attempted “whitewash” of the injustices against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Tillerson met with Myanmar’s de-facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Manila this week at the ASEAN summit. The pair didn’t answer reporters’ questions on the conflict in Rakhine, but are expected to meet again tomorrow to address the situation.

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