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Tillerson says U.S. considers individual sanctions for Myanmar

15 November 2017

Rohingya Muslims have lived in Myanmar for decades but many in the country's Buddhist majority see them as foreigners.

Myanmar has recently been accused of ethnic cleansing as scores of Rohingya people have fled the country amid reported attacks by the military.

More than 200 in-depth interviews with Rohingya victims and witnesses of violence led the report's authors to conclude that Myanmar's security forces carried out an "unprecedented, widespread, and systematic" campaign of violence against Rohingya civilians since October 2016.

Myanmar political analyst Yan Myo Thein said the omission of the Rohingya crisis from the statement could reflect ASEAN's policy of noninterference in the internal affairs of member states.

"I think that Myanmar might promise to work with the global community, and it is likely that the worldwide community will also work with Myanmar on resolving this problem", he said. "They killed Hindus and other ethnic minorities". United Nations officials and some world leaders have in fact described the treatment of Rohingya as "ethnic cleansing".

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De facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has also come under fire for allegedly not doing enough to stop the persecution the Rohingya people.

"She has said what she will do, and ASEAN must make comments on Myanmar only after waiting and seeing what she does", he said.

The military said it had interviewed thousands of people during a monthlong investigation into the conduct of troops in Rakhine after Rohingya insurgents launched a series of deadly attacks there on August 25. Some recruiters are Rohingya themselves, the United Nations report said, and have formed trafficking rings as the population has expanded in Bangladesh.

Tillerson also met with Myanmar's powerful military chief, Min Aung Hlaing, who is in charge of operations in Rakhine.

With US senators in Washington pressing to impose economic sanctions and travel restrictions targeting the military and its business interests, Tillerson is expected to deliver a stern message to Burma's generals, while supporting the transition to democracy. Trudeau called on Tuesday for a "sustainable and just solution".

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Human Rights Watch called for Myanmar to be referred to the ICC in order to assure accountability for the perpetrators of criminal violence against Rohingya civilians.

A senior U.S. State Department official said Tuesday that Tillerson would use the visit to "express concerns over the displacement and violence and insecurity affecting Rohingya populations and other local populations and discuss ways to help Burma stakeholders implement commitments aimed at ending the crisis and charting productive ways forward".

Myanmar authorities gave Bangladesh a list with the names of 1,000 people deemed terrorists during a six-day conference on security and law enforcement between the Myanmar Police Force and Border Guard Bangladesh, which began on Monday in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw.

Myanmar's army has issued a report forcefully denying they committed atrocities against the Rohingya, the embattled ethnic minority who have fled in their hundreds of thousands across the border to Bangladesh.

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Tillerson says U.S. considers individual sanctions for Myanmar