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Top diplomats to visit troubled Rakhine state in Myanmar

  • Published at 07:31 pm November 1st, 2016
Top diplomats to visit troubled Rakhine state in Myanmar

Senior diplomats in Myanmar are set to depart on Wednesday for troubled northern Rakhine State, which has been closed to aid workers and observers for more than three weeks since deadly attacks on police border posts, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

The government of Aung San Suu Kyi has invited representatives of the United States, China, Britain and the European Union, and the top United Nations representative in the country, to visit the area over two days.

Pressure over abuses

Allegations that Myanmar soldiers are killing, raping and torturing villagers in Rakhine, a restive region that is home to the persecuted Muslim Rohingya, must be independently investigated, rights groups said. Northern Rakhine has been under a military lockdown since an attack on border guards three weeks ago left nine policeman dead. The government has blamed the raids on Rohingya militants and a search for the culprits has seen more than 30 people killed and dozens arrested, according to official reports. On Friday Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch joined calls for an impartial investigation into the allegations, which the UN has called "alarming and unacceptable".

Rakhine has sizzled with tension ever since waves of communal violence in 2012 killed more than 100 and pushed tens of thousands of people, mostly Rohingya, into destitute displacement camps.

Many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar insist the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and viscerally oppose any moves to grant them citizenship.

The recent upsurge in violence deepens and complicates a conflict that already posed a top challenge to a new civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who has disappointed rights groups by not coming out in stronger support of the Rohingya.