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Tillerson Calls for Credible Probe of Atrocities against Rohingya

Tillerson Calls for Credible Probe of Atrocities against Rohingya

Wednesday, 15 November, 2017 - 12:45
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to staff members at the US Mission to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Alex Brandon

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday said he would not yet push for sanctions against Myanmar over the Rohingya refugee crisis, but called for an independent probe into "credible" reports that soldiers committed atrocities against the minority Muslims.

Speaking after meetings with the army chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and Myanmar's de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi following a one-day stop in Naypyidaw, Tillerson said that broad economic sanctions are "not something that I'd think would be advisable at this time".

But he said Washington was "deeply concerned by credible reports of widespread atrocities committed by Myanmar's security forces and vigilantes" and urged Myanmar to accept an independent investigation into those allegations, after which individual sanctions could be appropriate.

"The scenes of what occurred out there are just horrific," he added. 

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled the mainly Buddhist country since the military launched an operation in northern Rakhine state in late August.

Refugees massing in grim Bangladeshi camps have described chilling and consistent accounts of widespread murder, rape and arson at the hands of security forces and Buddhist mobs.

A top UN official has described the military's actions as a textbook case of "ethnic cleansing.”

"In all my meetings, I have called on the Myanmar civilian government to lead a full and effective independent investigation and for the military to facilitate full access and cooperation," Tillerson said.

He added that it was the duty of the military to help the government to meet commitments to ensure the safety and security of all people in Rakhine.

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