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Southeast Asia summit draft statement skips over Rohingya crisis

15 November 2017

"Secretary Tillerson's visit must be used to recognize the tragedy for what it is, ethnic cleansing, and to pressure the Myanmar government and in particular Myanmar's military to address the crimes against humanity that are taking place", said Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International, in a statement.

On Friday, the Myanmar military replaced the commanding officer in Rakhine state.

Myanmar and Bangladesh have already agreed on a deal to repatriate Rohingya refugees and take steps to boost border security.

More than 600,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh since late August, driven out by a counter-insurgency clearance operation in Rakhine State that a top United Nations official has called a classic case of "ethnic cleansing".

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

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Aung Htay Myint said the two nations will discuss the policy to repatriate Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh and sign a memorandum of understanding when Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali visits Myanmar on November 19.

The military, known as the Tatmadaw, has also been widely accused of mass rape, looting, torching villages and other crimes against humanity.

Myanmar's military has consistently claimed its innocence, and on Monday it posted the findings of an internal investigation on the Facebook page of its commander in chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

"All this report shows is how totally unrepentant the Myanmar military is for what they have done".

"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.

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Prior to August's operation, a five-month crackdown from October previous year led to around 400 people being killed, according to Rohingya groups.

In a report on Monday, the military said it had "abided by laws" during the "security operations" in northern Rakhine state, prompting worldwide rights groups to clan that it is whitewashing ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity targeting the Rohingya. He added that the British government is appalled by the atrocities being committed in Rakhine State.

Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque and State Secretary of the Danish Development Cooperation Martin Bille Hermann signed the declaration during the discussion on the whole range of bilateral issues.

Rohingya, described by the the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012. No reason was given for the removal of Maj.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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Southeast Asia summit draft statement skips over Rohingya crisis