Dhaka, Bangladesh
Myanmar forms new body on Rohingya

Myanmar forms new body on Rohingya

Suu Kyi skips UNGA

Myanmar's president office says a committee has been formed to implement recommendations for improving the security and livelihoods of its ethnic Rohingya Muslim minority, reports agencies. The recommendations were made in a report last month by a commission led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The president's office said in a statement Tuesday that the new 15-member Implementation Committee of Rakhine Advisory Committee would work on improving security, economic development and social affairs in Rohingya areas, as well as maintaining the sustainability of ethnic villages and removing camps for the displaced. It said the committee would also work to speed progress on verifying the Rohingya under the country's citizenship laws so they can be recognized as citizens. With Myanmar drawing condemnation for violence that has driven at least 370,000 Rohingya to flee the country, the government said Wednesday its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will skip this month's UN General Assembly. Suu Kyi will miss the assembly, which opened Tuesday and runs through Sept. 25, in order to address domestic security issues, according to presidential office spokesman Zaw Htay. Her appearance at last year's General Assembly was a landmark: her first since her party won elections in 2015 and replaced a military-dominated government. Even then, however, she faced criticism over Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya Muslims, whose name she did not utter. Members of the ethnic group are commonly referred to as "Bengalis" by many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar who insist they migrated illegally from Bangladesh. Suu Kyi is not Myanmar's president - her official titles are state counselor and foreign minister - but she effectively serves as leader of the Southeast Asian nation. Zaw Htay said that, with President Htin Kyaw hospitalized, second Vice President Henry Van Tio would attend the UN meeting. "The first reason (Suu Kyi cannot attend) is because of the Rakhine terrorist attacks," Zaw Htay said. "The state counselor is focusing to calm the situation in Rakhine state. There are circumstances. The second reason is, there are people inciting riots in some areas. We are trying to take care of the security issue in many other places. The third is that we are hearing that there will be terrorist attacks and we are trying to address this issue." The crisis erupted on Aug. 25, when an insurgent Rohingya group attacked police outposts in Myanmar's Rakhine state. That prompted Myanmar's military to launch "clearance operations" against the rebels, setting off a wave of violence that has left hundreds dead and thousands of homes burned - mostly Rohingya in both cases. Zaw Htay said of 471 "Bengali" villages in three townships, 176 are now completely empty and at least 34 others are partially abandoned. He said there had been at least 86 clashes through Sept. 5, but none since then. "What that means is, when the security forces are trying to stabilize the region, they have succeeded to a point," he said.

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