clear
Saturday October 21st, 2017 12:56AM

Myanmar's Suu Kyi urges unity, creates new aid committee

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's embattled leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, called for national unity Thursday and said she has created a committee that will oversee all international and local assistance in violence-struck Rakhine state.

More than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from the state to neighboring Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when security forces responded to attacks by a militant Rohingya group with a broad crackdown on the long-persecuted Muslim minority. Many houses were burned down.

The U.N. has called the violence "textbook ethnic cleansing."

Suu Kyi acknowledged in a speech on state-run television that the country is facing widespread criticism over the refugee crisis and called for unity in tackling the problem. She said her government is holding talks with Bangladesh on the return of "those who are now in Bangladesh." She gave no details, but officials have suggested they would need to provide residency documents, which few have.

Myanmar's Buddhist majority denies that Rohingya Muslims are a separate ethnic group and regards them as having migrated illegally from Bangladesh, although many families have lived in Myanmar for generations. Suu Kyi did not use the word "Rohingya" in her speech but referred to several other ethnic minorities by name.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former political prisoner, has been widely criticized outside Myanmar for not speaking out on behalf of the Rohingya.

She said in her speech that those who return from Bangladesh would need to be resettled, without providing details, and that development must be brought to Rakhine, one of the country's poorest areas, to achieve a durable peace.

She said she would head the new committee, the "Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine," and that it would coordinate all efforts to create a "peaceful and developed Rakhine state."

The government has tightly restricted access to Rakhine for international aid groups and journalists.

Suu Kyi said her government has invited U.N. agencies, financial institutions such as the World Bank, and others to help develop Rakhine.

Myanmar officials deny there has been ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar's ambassador to Japan, Thurain Thant Zin, told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday that his government was providing humanitarian aid to all affected by the violence and denied reports of human rights abuses by the military.

"To say the Myanmar military conducted those illegal acts is untrue and cannot be true," he said. "The Myanmar government protests the use of such terms as ethnic cleansing and genocide."

At U.N. headquarters in New York, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' spokesman said he is sending Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman to Myanmar for several days starting Friday to meet government officials and others to address urgent issues the U.N. chief has raised regarding the Rohingyas.

These issues include Guterres' repeated calls for an end to military operations and violence in northern Rakhine state, unfettered humanitarian access, and the voluntary and "sustainable return" of refugees who fled to Bangladesh, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Thursday.

Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, met Myanmar's National Security Ambassador U Thaung Tun and raised the same issues.

She urged an immediate end to violence by all sides and access to all those affected by the fighting and appealed to Myanmar "to facilitate the safe, dignified return of all those displaced as quickly as possible."

The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, has invited former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who headed a commission on Rakhine state, to an informal meeting Friday to discuss its findings and recommendations. The commission, which disbanded last month, focused on long-term solutions to improve people's lives and addressed many of the root causes of the current crisis.

___

Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer contributed to this report from the United Nations.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Myanmar's Suu Kyi urges unity, creates new aid committee
Myanmar's embattled leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has called for national unity and created a committee that will coordinate all international and local assistance in violence-struck Rakhine state
12:10PM ( 3 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump says health care order will help millions
President Donald Trump predicts "millions and millions of people" will benefit from his action to unwind the health care law
12:04PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Probe blames poor evacuation plans in deadly Portugal fire
News reports say an independent investigation into a Portuguese forest fire that killed 64 people has found that authorities failed to evacuate villages on time
12:04PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
French President Macron launches Step 2 of labor changes
French President Emmanuel Macron is launching step two of his campaign to rethink French labor law, focusing on unemployment benefits and job training
11:21AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Winds expected to drive next wave of deadly California fires
Winds gusting to 45 mph and dry air are expected to descend on areas north of San Francisco where at least 23 people have died and at least 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed by wildfires
11:20AM ( 53 minutes ago )
The Latest: Official says released family not in US custody
An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three young children _ just released in Pakistan _ aren't yet in U.S. custody, but they're in what a U.S. national security official says is a safe but undisclosed location in Pakistan.
10:55AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Probe blames poor evacuation plans in deadly Portugal fire
News reports say an independent investigation into a Portuguese forest fire that killed 64 people has found that authorities failed to evacuate villages on time
12:04PM ( 10 minutes ago )
The Latest: Israel calls US decision 'turning point' for UN
Israel's U.N. ambassador is calling the United States' withdrawal from UNESCO "a turning point."
12:02PM ( 12 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump says couple's release shows respect for US
President Donald Trump says Pakistan's release of an American woman, her Canadian husband and their three young children is a sign that "a lot of countries are starting to respect the United States of America once again."
11:59AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Family held captive by Taliban-linked group released
American woman, her Canadian husband and 3 young children released after years in captivity by Taliban-allied network
11:57AM ( 16 minutes ago )
The Latest: Hachette ends deal with Weinstein Books
Hachette Book Group ends deal with Weinstein Books
11:54AM ( 20 minutes ago )