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Rohingya Issue a Real Test for Myanmar, Says Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson said it is up to the military leadership of Myanmar to decide what direction they want to play in the future of the country because the US consider Myanmar as an important emerging democracy.

PTI

Updated:October 19, 2017, 8:10 AM IST
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Rohingya Issue a Real Test for Myanmar, Says Rex Tillerson
Rohingya Muslim children, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, stretch out their arms out to collect chocolates and milk distributed by Bangladeshi men at Taiy Khali refugee camp, Bangladesh. (File photo/AP)

Washington: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that he holds the military leadership in Myanmar responsible for the current refugee crisis affecting the country's Rohingya Muslims.

Tillerson said it is up to the military leadership of Myanmar to decide what direction they want to play in the future of the country because the US consider Myanmar as an important emerging democracy.

"But this is a real test. It's a real test of this power-sharing government as to how they're going to deal with this very serious issue," he said.

The US is extraordinarily concerned by what is happening with the Rohingya's in Myanmar, he added.

Tillerson has been in contact with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the civilian side of the government.

"As you know, this is a power-sharing government that has emerged in Myanmar. We really hold the military leadership accountable for what is happening with the Rohingya area," Tillerson said.

"What's most important to us is that the world can't just stand idly by and be witness to the atrocities that are being reported in the area," he said.

"What we've encouraged the military to do is, first, we understand you have serious rebel/terrorist elements within that part of your country as well that you have to deal with, but you must be disciplined about how you deal with those, and you must be restrained in how you deal with those," he said.

Tillerson said that Myanmar must allow access in this region again so that the US can get a full accounting of the circumstances.

He described the situation in Myanmar as heart breaking.

"We have been asking for access to the region. We've been able to get a couple of our people from our embassy into the region so we can begin to get our own firsthand account of what is occurring," he said.

The US is encouraging access for the aid agencies so that they can at least address some of the most pressing humanitarian needs, he said.

"But more importantly, so we can get a full understanding of what is going on. If these reports are true, someone is going to be held to account for that," Tillerson said referring to news reports of human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims.

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| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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