| 31.01,18. 10:10 PM |
Rohingya villages still being attacked in Burma, says UN official
A US diplomat has resigned from an advisory panel role, describing it as a ‘whitewash’ for Burma’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Attacks on Rohingya Muslims appear to be continuing in Burma and it is not yet safe for the hundreds of thousands living in refugee camps in Bangladesh to begin returning home, a senior United Nations official has said.
Many Rohingya want to return eventually to their villages in Burma, Unicef deputy executive director Justin Forsyth said during a visit to the immense Kutupalong refugee camp. But they fear for their safety if they were to go back now, he said.
“The situation isn’t safe for the returns to begin,” he said. “I spoke to one young woman who had been on the phone to her aunt in Arakan in Myanmar (Burma). And they were attacking villages even today.”
More than 680,000 Rohingya fled Burma’s Arakan state beginning in August, after Burma security forces began “clearance operations” in their villages in the wake of attacks by Rohingya insurgents on police posts.
These young women tell me their shocking stories – their village attacked, soldiers raping girls and women, children killed with knives, 80 families being forced to sit in water in paddy field all day in sun Rohingya Bangladesh
Mr Forsyth’s comments came as former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson resigned suddenly from an advisory panel on the crisis, calling it a “whitewash and a cheerleading operation” for Burma leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
“She blames all the problems that Burma is having on the international media, on the UN, on human rights groups, on other governments, and I think this is caused by the bubble that is around her, by individuals that are not giving her frank advice,” Mr Richardson, once a close friend of Mr Suu Kyi, said in an interview in Rangoon, Burma’s largest city.
Mr Richardson said Ms Suu Kyi appeared to want the 10-member international advisory group, one in a string of Rohingya commissions set up by the Burma government, to endorse her policies.
“I’m not going to be part of it because I think there are serious issues of human rights violations, safety, citizenship, peace and stability that need to be addressed,” said Mr Richardson, who often works as an international troubleshooter. “I just felt that my advice and counsel would not be heeded.”