Mike Pence tells Aung San Suu Kyi Rohingya violence inexcusable

Sergio Conner
November 15, 2018

US Vice President Mike Pence told Aung San Suu Kyi the violence against the Rohingya was "without excuse", adding pressure to Myanmar's civilian leader who this week had an Amnesty International honour revoked.

On Tuesday Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed made an unusually harsh public criticism of Ms Suu Kyi, saying that as a former political prisoner she should better understand suffering.

Myanmar does not want its Rohingya, who are officially described as "Bengali" illegal immigrants.

Numerous million refugees in the teeming camps have expressed terror at the prospect of returning to Buddhist majority Myanmar, where United Nations investigators say they were targeted in a military campaign that amounted to genocide.

Pence and Suu Kyi met on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore. Mr Pence is attending that and the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Papua New Guinea later this week in President Donald Trump's stead.

Suu Kyi brushed off Pence's comments.

He said the RRRC had taken all necessary preparation to repatriate the 150 Rohingyas.

Consequently, it must thus be asked, and Centhra thus accordingly asks when and at what juncture will the leaders of Asean heed the call to uphold basic human rights and dignity for all peoples, and thus finally decide that enough is enough, and finally take decisive action against the Burmese regime?

Suu Kyi became a democracy icon during Myanmar's long years of military dictatorship when she spent some 15 years under house arrest.

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There was a discussion about the current situation on the ground in Rakhine, and the need for security and development. "And I'm sure you will say the same of yours, that you understand your own country better than anybody else does".

"This is a tragedy that has touched the hearts of millions of Americans", Pence said, as Aung San Suu Kyi sat stoically beside him. "I always say that repatriation is a lengthy process".

On Wednesday, officials of Bangladesh's Refugee Repatriation and Relief Commission met representatives of different global agencies and the government, but no-one was willing to disclose the outcome of the discussions.

"But the ultimate success of the initiative still depended on the "voluntariness" of the refugees' decision to return", the official said.

On Thursday, the Myanmar government will begin to repatriate the first 2,000 or so Rohingya to the site of their previous homes, without their input or consent.

"The refugees in Cox's Bazar are the victims of human rights violations committed in the midst of the violence that erupted in August 2017, which led to the flight of more than 725,000 people".

Myanmar is preparing to receive 2260 Rohingya refugees, who are among 8032, 2260 people eligible for return according to a list drafted by Bangladesh.

The UK has consistently emphasized that the repatriation of any Rohingya refugees to Burma must be voluntary, safe, dignified, sustainable and uphold their human rights.

Officials said the first batch's return would be a test case to know how Myanmar was treating the Rohingyas, as Naypyidaw had assured their safety and security with confidence-building measures.

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