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UK to suspend its military ties with Myanmar

20th Sep 2017
UK to suspend its military ties with Myanmar

By Tayfun Salci

 

LONDON (AA): The U.K. is suspending all its engagement with Myanmar’s military until the action against the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority is halted, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday.

“We are very concerned about what is happening to the Rohingya people in Burma [Myanmar]. The military action against them must stop,” May told the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Noting that “too many vulnerable people” had to flee for their lives, May said: “[Myanmar’s de facto leader] Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese government need to make it very clear that the military action should stop.”

“The British government is announcing today that we are going to stop all defense engagement and training of the Burmese military by the Ministry of Defense until this issue is resolved,” she added.

Last year, the U.K. spent around £305,000 (some $412,000) as part of a training program provided to the Myanmar military on democracy, leadership and English language. The program offered by the Ministry of Defense does not include combat training.

Since Aug. 25, more than 420,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.

The refugees are fleeing a fresh security operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladesh, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine’s Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

[Photo:  Rohingya Muslims, fleeing from ongoing military operations in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, walk to a makeshift camp on hills at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on September 17, 2017. Photographer: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/AA]

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