CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 December 2017

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Myanmar shuns United Nations mission

MANDALAY (UCAN): Naypyidaw has denied visas to three members of a United Nations (UN) fact finding mission charged with an investigation into human rights violations against the Muslim Rohingya minority people by security forces in the Union of Myanmar.
 
Bishop Alexander Pyone Cho, from of Pyay in the troubled Rakhine State, said that when he read the news it was hard for him to believe it.
 
“Aung San Suu Kyi appears to face a tough challenge between the military, which still plays a key role, and the international community, including the UN, over the Rakhine crisis,” Bishop Pyone Cho said.
 
Charles Cardinal Bo, from Yangon, immediately called on the government to work with the international community to investigate crimes reported by the UN in a truly independent way that results in justice and accountability.
 
“Allegations of ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity should be fully and independently investigated. The warnings of potential genocide need to be heeded,” Cardinal Bo said in a statement on June 26.
 
Kyaw Nyunt, an associate pastor of Judson Church in Yangon, said he believes that the government move is about putting the national interest first and human rights second. He said it appears the government believes the UN investigation might interfere with the internal affairs of the country.
 
“In terms of the Rakhine crisis it is not fair to pressure the government; the UN and the international community should approach Myanmar and constructively collaborate,” Kyaw Nyunt, who was a member of the Rakhine Investigation Commission established in mid-2012 under former president, Thein Sein, explained.
 
On June 29, the deputy foreign minister, Kyaw Tin, told parliament that the government would not cooperate with the mission, reiterating the position taken by the nation’s de facto leader, Suu Kyi, that its work would be counterproductive.
 
Suu Kyi, who is also the minister for Foreign Affairs, has backed the military—the former dictators—with whom her government shares power, despite accusations of ethnic cleansing by international rights groups.
 
Suu Kyi and the military government that ruled until 2015 have come under criticism for their treatment of the Rohingya, especially since riots in 2012 saw more than 120,000 flee to internally displaced people’s camps and a four-month military offensive killed some 200 people.
 
The killing of nine police officers, allegedly by Rohingya militants at three border posts in northern Rakhine on October 9 last year resulted in a surge in violence by the military, which operates independently from the Suu Kyi civilian government.
 
More than 70,000 Rohingya have since fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.
 
The Rohingya, who number about one million, are denied citizenship and other basic rights in the Buddhist-majority country.
 
“In terms of the Rakhine crisis, Suu Kyi has a fear of nationalists and the military, so we no longer trust her as one who once prioritised human rights,” Kyaw Hla Aung, a former lawyer, said.
 
James Gomes, the regional director of Caritas Chittagong in Bangladesh, said improving Bangladeshi-Myanmar relations depended upon resolving the Rohingya issue amicably.
 
“For decades, the Rohingya issue has been a thorn in bilateral relations between the two neighbours. The return of democracy in Myanmar has opened the door to resolving the crisis, so Bangladesh and the international community need to take every necessary step in order to reach an acceptable solution,” Gomes said.

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