Myanmar Plays Diplomatic Card to Avert UN Censure Over Rohingya i

Myanmar said on Wednesday (06/09) it is negotiating with China and Russia to ensure they block any UN Security Council censure over the violence that has forced an exodus of nearly 150,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh in less than two weeks. (Reuters Photo/Soe Zeya Tun)

By : Wa Lone and Simon Lewis | on 1:00 AM September 07, 2017
Category : International, SE Asia

Yangon. Myanmar said on Wednesday (06/09) it is negotiating with China and Russia to ensure they block any UN Security Council censure over the violence that has forced an exodus of nearly 150,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh in less than two weeks.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi blamed "terrorists" for "a huge iceberg of misinformation" on the strife in the northwestern state of Rakhine but, in a statement, she made no mention of the Rohingya who have fled.

She has come under increasing pressure from countries with Muslim populations, including Indonesia, where thousands led by Islamist groups held a rally in Jakarta on Wednesday, to demand that diplomatic ties with Buddhist-majority Myanmar be cut.

In a rare letter to the UN Security Council, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern the violence could spiral into a "humanitarian catastrophe".

He warned on Tuesday that there was a risk of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar that could destabilize the region.

Myanmar National Security Adviser Thaung Tun told a news conference in the capital, Naypyitaw, that Myanmar was counting on China and Russia, both permanent members of the Security Council, to block a UN resolution on the crisis.

"We are negotiating with some friendly countries not to take it to the Security Council," he said. "China is our friend and we have a similar friendly relationship with Russia, so it will not be possible for that issue to go forward."

Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said he believed the 15-member Security Council had sent a signal - by meeting behind closed doors on the issue a week ago - that it would like to see the situation calm down.

"We called for restraint," he told reporters on Tuesday. "The Security Council for the time being did what it could do."

Reuters reporters in the Cox's Bazar region of neighboring Bangladesh have witnessed boatloads of exhausted Rohingya arriving near the border village of Shamlapur.

According to the latest estimates issued by UN workers operating there, arrivals in just 12 days stood at 146,000. This brought to 233,000 the total number of Rohingya who have sought refuge in Bangladesh since last October.

Newly arrived Rohingyas told authorities that three boats carrying a total of more than 100 people capsized in the early hours of Wednesday. Coastguard Commander M.S. Kabir said six bodies, including three children, had washed ashore.

Reuters

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