Myanmar claims the United States’ (U.S.) declaration the country is carrying out ethnic cleansing was “without any proven facts”.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s spokesperson Zaw Htay said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “failed to mention” Muslim militants’ alleged killings of Hindus and other innocent civilians, after attaching the label to a military campaign that has driven hundreds of Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh.
Myanmar has repeatedly asked for information to help its own “verification” as accusations of atrocities have increased, but has not received “meaningful facts.”
Mr Tillerson said on Wednesday that a careful and thorough analysis had clearly indicated the situation in the country’s northern Rakhine state was ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya.
The situation began after an attack by Rohingya militants on government security forces in Buddhist-majority Myanmar in late August triggered a retaliatory campaign.
Security forces and vigilante groups have been accused of systematically torturing, raping, beating and killing members of the Muslim minority.
“No provocation can justify the horrendous atrocities that have ensued,” Mr Tillerson said.
He said those responsible needed to be held accountable and reinforced US support for an independent investigation.
Mr Tillerson made a trip to Myanmar last week, meeting with Ms Suu Kyi and commander in chief of the armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
He declined to declare the violence ethnic cleansing at the time, claiming further investigation was needed.
It came after an internal investigation by Myanmar’s military had concluded that no violations had occurred, despite Bangladesh refugee accounts of rape, killing and arson by security forces.
Aid agencies fear hundreds of Rohingya are dead, but Myanmar has denied access to international fact-finding teams.
Mr Zaw Htay said on Thursday that Myanmar would seek “a durable solution” based on recommendations of a commission led by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on ending violence between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya.
Foreign ministers of Myanmar and Bangladesh were meeting in Burma’s capital Naypyitaw on Wednesday and Thursday for talks about repatriating people who fled the violence.