July 29, 2020 | News | No Comments
Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, urged Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi to allow the UN’s refugee agency to help Rohingya refugees return to the Rakhine state on Sunday, following the violent crackdown last August which saw 700,000 flee their homes.
Mr Johnson met with the embattled leader, whose reputation has crumbled over her handling of the Rohingya crisis, in the capital of Naypyidaw while on a four-day tour in Asia.
He also called for Ms Suu Kyi to launch an independent investigation into the crisis, amid claims Burmese security forces drove out Rohingya Muslims as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign.
"I spoke to her about my own experience witnessing the terrible conditions of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and my deep concern about their future," Mr Johnson said.
"I underlined the importance of the Burmese authorities carrying out a full and independent investigation into the violence in Rakhine, and to hold to account those responsible for human rights violations.
He added: "I underlined the urgency of creating the conditions in Rakhine that could make it a safe place for the Rohingya refugees to return to, free from fear, and in the knowledge that their basic rights will be respected and upheld.
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He then encouraged the Burmese leader to "put to an end seventy years of conflict in her homeland."
The meeting followed Mr Johnson’s visit to a refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district, where nearly 700,000 Rohingya have sought sanctuary after fleeing the Burmese army crackdown.
Burma has staunchly denied the charges of ethnic cleansing and blocked UN investigators from the conflict zone, which has soured its relations with a number of western allies.
Fresh reports of mass graves in Rakhine – and the arrest of two Reuters journalists investigating an alleged massacre – have heightened pressure on Suu Kyi to condemn the army, who she is in a delicate power-sharing arrangement with.
But the Nobel laureate has refused to change tack and is accused by critics of adopting a siege mentality.
Myanmar and Bangladesh have drawn a deal to bring back refugees, but repatriation has yet to begin.
Many Rohingya do not feel safe returning to a country where they have faced violent persecution and decades of discrimination at the hands of a state that has denied them citizenship.