Kofi Annan to probe reports of Rohingya abuse in Rakhine

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Bangkok, Nov 29 (IANS) Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was scheduled to arrive in the Rakhine state of Myanmar on Tuesday to examine reports of abuse against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

This will be Annan’s second visit to the region since the government appointed him head of an advisory commission to propose solutions to the sectarian conflict between the Buddhist majority and Rohingyas, EFE news reported.

Annan had first visited the region in September before an armed attack on October 13 on three police border posts in the Maungdaw districts, which led to the deployment of the army in the region.

The army offensive has already claimed the lives of 69 suspects and 17 soldiers and led to the arrest of 434 people, according to the army, which has barred access to humanitarian aid organisations, observers and the media in the region.

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At least 30,000 civilians have been displaced due to the violence in Maungdaw, where activists and human rights groups accuse the Myanmar military of carrying out killings, rapes, looting and burning over a thousand houses in Rohingya villages.

During his visit, Annan will hold meetings in Rangoon, Naypyidaw and Rakhine, including the area affected by violence, the former UN Secretary General said.

“Today I am travelling to Myanmar, where the members of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State and I will meet with community leaders across the region, including the border areas recently affected by violence in the north of Rakhine State, to better understand the challenges they face,” Annan said.

Last week, Annan expressed deep concern over the outbreak of violence in northern Rakhine State and urged security services to act in compliance with the rule of law.

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John McKissick, head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR on the Bangladesh border with Myanmar, had accused the Myanmar authorities of carrying out an ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas.

Rakhine is home to more than a million Rohingyas, a community not recognised as citizens in the country and shunned as Bangladeshi immigrants.

Around 120,000 of them live severely restrictive lives in 67 camps since the outbreak of sectarian violence in 2012 that left at least 160 persons dead.



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