The treatment of the Rohingya community in Myanmar is “besmirching” the country’s reputation, British Foreign Secretary Mr Boris Johnson said on Saturday.
In a statement released in London, Johnson appealed to State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to use her “remarkable qualities” to stop the violence with the support of the Tatmadaw.
The British Foreign Secretary said that “Aung San Suu Kyi was rightly regarded as one of the most inspiring figures of our age, but the treatment of the Rohingya is, alas, besmirching the reputation of Burma”.
He acknowledged that the State Counsellor faced “huge challenges” in modernising Myanmar.
“I hope she can now use all her remarkable qualities to unite her country, to stop the violence and to end the prejudice that afflicts both Muslims and other communities in Rakhine,” Johnson said.
“It is vital that she receives the support of the Burmese military, and that her attempts at peacemaking are not frustrated.
“She and all in Burma will have our full support in this.”
The statement came as the security forces continued a counterinsurgency operation in northern Rakhine State launched after Islamic extremists attacked 30 police posts and a Tatmadaw camp early on August 25.
The attacks, which came amid simmering tensions after a smaller series of raids by the extremists last October, have triggered the worst crisis in Rakhine since communal violence engulfed the state in 2012.
The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, says nearly 73,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since the latest violence began, Reuters reported.
The state-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar on September 2 quoted a government information committee as saying there had been about 52 armed clashes in northern Rakhine since August 25, including 38 incidents on September 1 alone.
The committee said more than 11,700 “ethnic people” had been evacuated from villages in northern Rakhine, using terminology for non-Muslims.
It said more than 2,625 houses had been burnt down in three villages and two wards in Maungdaw Township and blamed the arson on the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which has claimed responsibility for the August 25 attacks.
However, Reuters newsagency quoted Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh as saying that the Tatmadaw had launched a campaign of arson and killings aimed at forcing them to leave northern Rakhine.
The Global New Light of Myanmar report quoted the Tatmadaw as saying on August 31 that the death toll since the fighting began stood at 13 members of the security forces, two government officials, 14 civilians and “about 370 ARSA extremist terrorists”.