Rohingya rebels ‘ready for talks with Myanmar’

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Naypyidaw, Oct 7 (IANS) The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), classified as a terrorist organisation by the Myanmar authorities, on Saturday said they are open to talks with the government.

ARSA rebels were behind an attack on multiple government posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine region in late August, that led to an ongoing military offensive in the region and resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas.

“If at any stage, the Myanmar government is inclined to peace, then ARSA will welcome that inclination and reciprocate,” the group said in a statement released on social media.

ARSA also said the month-long ceasefire it declared in September to allow humanitarian assistance to reach the region will end on Monday and accused the Myanmar authorities of blocking aid from reaching Rakhine, Efe news reported.

“The main reason that humanitarian access has been impeded is due to the Myanmar government’s sustained military operations and a political strategy which uses mass murder, violence, arson, intimidation, and genocidal rape as tools of depopulation,” said the statement.

According to the UN, around 515,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh since August 25. ARSA had also claimed responsibility for an earlier attack on government posts in Rakhine on October 9, 2016, which had led to the first military offensive in the region.

More than one million Rohingyas who lived in Rakhine have been victims of persecution since the outbreak of sectarian violence in 2012, which left at least 160 dead and confined around 120,000 to 67 refugee camps.

Myanmar considers the Rohingyas — many of whom have lived in the country for generations — illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship rights.

–IANS

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