UK proposes for independent probe into Myanmar violence

Violet Powell
February 12, 2018

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Sunday in the capital, Naypyidaw, to discuss how hundreds of thousands of Rohingya can be safely repatriated.

Their plight has sparked global alarm over withering press freedoms in Myanmar and government efforts to curb reporting in northern Rakhine state - where troops are accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims.

The meeting followed Johnson's visit to a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, where almost 700,000 Rohingya have sought sanctuary since fleeing Myanmar since August past year.

Johnson toured a camp that has taken in some of the estimated 650,000 Rohingya who fled from violent attacks a year ago.

But Myanmar has staunchly denied the charges and blocked United Nations investigators from the conflict zone, souring relations with a host of western allies. Doctors Without Borders estimated at least 6,700 Rohingya died in the first month of violence. Myanmar citizens Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were detained on December 12 for allegedly obtaining confidential documents.

But the Nobel laureate has refused to change tack and is accused by critics of adopting a siege mentality.

Referring to the Reuters report, Johnson said: "It's an extremely brilliant piece of reporting, providing a very, very important testimonial which I will be bringing up tomorrow, you can be sure, with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and others".

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"It is vital that the Rohingya refugees must be allowed to their homes in Rakhine voluntarily, in safety and with dignity, under global oversight, and when the conditions in Burma are right", he said.

Myanmar authorities deny the allegations but have virtually cut off northern Rakhine, barring independent media from accessing the conflict-hit areas.

Boris Johnson at a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh.

Previously Mr Johnson has described the suffering of the Rohingya as "one of the most shocking humanitarian disasters of our time".

He will go on to Bangkok, Thailand, for talks with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The panel was thrown into the spotlight last month after veteran U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson published a withering resignation letter saying he could not in "good conscience" sit on a board he feared would only "whitewash" the causes of the Rohingya crisis.

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