Southeast Asian States Go Easy on Myanmar Over Rohingya Abuse And Exodus

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A young Rohingya refugee learns to recite the Quran in an Arabic school. Source REUTERS Mohammad Ponir Hossain

As people fleeing violence in Myanmar relate the horrors of escaping military violence, Myanmar army released a report late night Monday in which it concluded there were "no deaths of innocent people".

A leading rights group on Tuesday derided as "laughable" and "pathetic" the Myanmar military's claims that there was no evidence of abuses by soldiers in Rakhine state.

On Monday, Suu Kyi said at the summit with her Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) counterparts that she was willing to receive global aid for the Rohingya and is prepared to begin the process of repatriation of the over 614,000 members of the minority group who have fled to Bangladesh after violence erupted late August in Rakhine state.

According to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since the end of the August.

The crackdown has been referred to as "ethnic cleansing" by the United Nations, among others.

According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

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The military, known as the Tatmadaw, has consistently protested its innocence, and on Monday it posted the findings of an internal investigation on the Facebook page of its commander in chief, Sen Gen Min Aung Hlaing. The result of this inquiry show little has changed, reports the BBC.

"Once again, Myanmar's military is trying to sweep serious violations against the Rohingya under the carpet", said James Gomez, Amnesty International's Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific in a statement yesterday.

"The Burmese military's absurd effort to absolve itself of mass atrocities underscores why an independent global investigation is needed to establish the facts and identify those responsible", said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch in a statement. He added that the British government is appalled by the atrocities being committed in Rakhine State. United Nations officials and some world leaders have in fact described the treatment of Rohingya as "ethnic cleansing".

The military's self-exoneration came as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepared to visit Myanmar today for talks with leaders. No reason for his transfer was given, but a senior officer with the military's media department told Reuters, Maung Maung Soe had no new assignment, and had been placed on a reserve list, Reuters reports.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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