The Latest: UN chief urges Myanmar to give Muslims status

AP News
Posted: Sep 05, 2017 3:33 PM
The Latest: UN chief urges Myanmar to give Muslims status

BANGKOK (AP) — The Latest on violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state and the resulting flood of ethnic Rohingya refugees into neighboring Bangladesh (all times local):

2:28 a.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says it's crucial that Myanmar's government immediately give Muslims either nationality or legal status so they can lead normal lives and freely move, find jobs, and get an education.

Guterres cited the longstanding history of "discrimination, hopelessness and extreme poverty" against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State and warned about possible ethnic cleansing.

The U.N. chief reiterated his condemnation of recent attacks by Rohingya insurgents.

But he said now the U.N. is receiving "constant reports of violence by Myanmar's security forces, including indiscriminate attacks." And he warned that it will further increase radicalization.

Guterres said nearly 125,000 victims of unbearable suffering and desperation have sought refuge in Bangladesh and many people have lost their lives trying to flee the violence.

He appealed to civilian and military authorities in Myanmar to end the violence.


10 p.m. Tuesday

Turkey says Myanmar has agreed to allow its aid officials to enter Rakhine state in western Myanmar and provide a ton of food and goods to minority Rohingya Muslims.

Recent violence between security forces and Rohingya has killed hundreds of people and driven more than 100,000 Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

Turkey's state-run news agency quoted presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin as saying Tuesday that the decision to let officials from the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency came after a telephone conversation between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Myanmar's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Kalin said plans were underway to distribute the aid in Rakhine state's Maungdaw and Buthi Taung areas in cooperation with Rakhine state officials.

He said the initial aid, which Turkey hopes to distribute Wednesday, will consist of rice, dried fish and clothing. He said more aid, including medicine, will continue to be sent to the region at "regular intervals."

The Rohingya have long faced severe prejudice in the Buddhist-majority country and are denied citizenship.


8 p.m.

Myanmar's military says Rohingya insurgents are plotting terrorist attacks and bombings in the country's cities and in a foreign nation it did not name, with the goal of drawing attention to their cause.

A statement Tuesday on the Facebook page of the office of the military commander in chief said the attacks are planned by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army this month to coincide with the U.N. General Assembly meeting. It gave no evidence to back its claims.

The insurgents have claimed responsibility for assaults on police posts and other targets on Aug. 25 which prompted "clearance operations" by security forces that killed hundreds of people and drove more than 100,000 Muslim Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

The military statement said overseas workers from Myanmar had been sent to a third country four months ago to receive terrorist training.

The Rohingya have long faced severe prejudice in the Buddhist-majority country and are denied citizenship.


7:20 p.m.

A Rohingya Muslim says she and thousands of fellow villagers driven from their homes by ethnic violence in Myanmar are now stranded along the coast, hoping to flee to nearby Bangladesh by boat.

The 18-year-old provided The Associated Press with cellphone photographs she took Tuesday along the beach in southern Maungdaw township in Rakhine state. Several of the photos show hundreds of people sitting on the ground, with meager belongings. Only some had tarps or umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun.

The teenager said her family's house was burned Aug. 25, right after Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar border guard police outposts. She spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern for her safety.

The military has said nearly 400 people, most of them insurgents, have died in clashes. The U.N. refugee agency says 123,000 refugees have fled western Myanmar since the violence began.


3:45 p.m.

The European Union is demanding full humanitarian access to reach Rohingya Muslims suffering from violence in Myanmar, and called on the nation to end abuses against the minority.

EU Commissioner Christos Stylianides said Tuesday that many Rohingya are "suffering greatly" and as a result are fleeing the country.

A massive influx of Rohingya refugees has pushed aid services in neighboring Bangladesh to the brink, with established camps already beyond capacity.

Stylianides said the EU supports efforts by Bangladesh authorities to provide safety for the refugees, and said caring for them is "crucial" until they can return to their homes. The EU will be providing aid, he said.


2:30 p.m.

Turkish officials say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has discussed the violence affecting the Rohingya Muslim minority with Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and said the issue was causing deep concern globally and especially in the Muslim world.

Officials at Erdogan's office in Ankara said Tuesday that the Turkish leader told Suu Kyi in a telephone call that disproportionate use of force against the minority group should be avoided, and maximum care should be taken to avoid harming civilians.

The officials also said Erdogan condemned terrorist attacks targeting civilians.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will travel to Bangladesh on Wednesday to discuss the situation of Rohingya refugees there, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Cavusoglu would also visit a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, it said.


2 p.m.

The U.N. refugee agency says some 123,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since violence erupted in Myanmar on Aug. 25.

UNHCR spokeswoman Vivian Tan said Tuesday that the latest number is a result of aid workers conducting new, more accurate counts in both established and makeshift refugee camps.

On Monday, the agency had estimated 87,000 refugees had crossed the swampy border in the days since Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar police posts, prompting security forces to launch "clearance operations" in response.

Tan said "the numbers are very worrying. They are going up very quickly." The older, established refugee camps for Rohingya have already reached capacity, and thousands were struggling to find shelter.