Tillerson asks Myanmar army chief to end Rohingya crisis

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From left, Rex Tillerson and Min Aung Hlaing (File photo collage)

PV International Desk : US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Myanmar’s army chief and expressed concern over the atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, reports Reuters.

Tillerson urged the army chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, to support the Myanmar government in ending the violence and allowing the safe return of ethnic Rohingya who have fled the area, said a US State Department statement.

More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine state in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, mostly to neighboring Bangladesh, since security forces responded to Rohingya militants’ attacks on Aug. 25 by launching a crackdown.

The US State Department is considering formally declaring the crackdown on Rohingya Muslims to be ethnic cleansing.

In his call with Min Aung Hlaing, Tillerson also urged the Myanmar military to facilitate humanitarian aid for displaced people, allow media access and cooperate with a UN investigation into allegations of human rights abuses, the State Department said.

Pressure has mounted for a tougher US response to the Rohingya crisis ahead of President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to Asia next month when he will attend a summit of Southeast Asian countries, including Myanmar, in Manila.