Indonesia’s visiting foreign minister on Monday proposed to Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi a formula to bring an end to ongoing violence in the restive Rakhine state.
Rento Marsudi’s proposal came in the form of a “4+1” formula to end violence against the country’s Rohingya population.
“The four points make up the core elements that have to be quickly carried out to avoid the escalation of the humanitarian and security crisis,” Marsudi said.
Another plank of the proposal calls for implementation of the recommendations by an advisory committee led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
On Aug. 25, violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine state when the country’s security forces launched an operation against the Rohingyas. It triggered a fresh influx of refugees towards neighboring Bangladesh, though the country sealed off its border to refugees.
Media reports said Myanmar security forces used disproportionate force, displacing thousands of Rohingya villagers and destroying their homes with mortars and machine guns.
Marsudi, who met Suu Kyi in Myanmar’s political capital Nay Pyi Taw, said the Myanmar government would form a committee to carry out the implementation and an advisory body to monitor it.
The meeting between the top Myanmar and Indonesian diplomats also agreed on Indonesian and ASEAN involvement in aid distribution in Rakhine state.
“Indonesia always insists that aid should reach everyone who needs it, without exception, without differentiating between race and religion,” Marsudi reiterated.
Separately, a statement issued by Myanmar’s government said that the two leaders exchanged views on how Indonesia can help overcome the humanitarian crisis after alleged violent attacks by the ARSA group.
Construction of Indonesian hospital
The Indonesian foreign minister also met the country’s military chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and other government officials.
“At the meeting, he explained her the real situation of ARSA militants attacks in northern part of Rakhine state which started from August 25,” said a statement from the Office of Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces.
Earlier, the Indonesian foreign minister, along with Indonesian Ambassador to Myanmar, and delegations arrived in Myanmar to discuss the prevailing situation in the Rakhine state and construction progress of Indonesian Hospital in Mrauk U town.
Marsudi said that the construction of the Indonesian Hospital is currently in its second stage, which is expected to be completed in two months. The construction of the main building will begin soon after.
Indonesia hopes that the construction will help the reconciliation process of inter-communal tensions in Rakhine State.
“The construction of the Indonesian Hospital is highly expected in the region, because it will improve the health services for all people in Rakhine State,” said Marsudi.
The building area is over 1000 square meters and the construction is done by Myanmar contractors and workers — including both Rakhine and Muslim people.
The region has seen simmering tension between its Buddhist and Muslim populations since communal violence broke out in 2012.
A crackdown launched last October in Maungdaw, where Rohingya make up the majority, led to a UN report on human rights violations and crimes against humanity by security forces.
The UN documented mass gang rape, killings — including infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances. Rohingya representatives have said approximately 400 people have been slain during the crackdown.
Oxford college removes painting of Aung San Suu Kyi from display
The Oxford college where Aung San Suu Kyi studied as an undergraduate has removed her portrait from public display and placed it in storage, in a move that follows international criticism over her role in Myanmar’s humanitarian crisis.
The governing body of St Hugh’s college decided to remove the painting of the Nobel laureate from its main entrance on Thursday, days before the start of the university term and the arrival of new students.
In 2012 Aung San Suu Kyi was celebrated with an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, and held her 67th birthday party at the college where she studied politics, philosophy and economics between 1964 and 1967.
But in recent months Myanmar’s leader has attracted increasing criticism for her apparent defence of the country’s treatment of its Rohingya minority, who have suffered ethnic cleansing and violent attacks by Myanmar’s military forces.
In a statement St Hugh’s said: “The college received the gift of a new painting earlier this month which will be exhibited for a period. The painting of Aung San Suu Kyi has, meanwhile, been moved to storage.”
St Hugh’s student newsletter, The Swan, said the decision to remove the portrait was taken by the college’s governing body, which includes the college’s fellows and its principal, Dame Elish Angiolini.
But the move by St Hugh’s was described as cowardly by the Burma Campaign UK group, which urged the college to go further.
“This seems a rather cowardly action by St Hugh’s. If they have taken down the portrait because of Aung San Suu Kyi defending the Burmese military as they commit ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya they should say so and write to her urging her to respect human rights,” said Mark Farmaner, the campaign’s director.
The portrait, painted by the artist Chen Yanning in 1997, belonged to Aung San Suu Kyi’s husband, the Oxford academic Michael Aris. After Aris’s death in 1999 the portrait was bequeathed to St Hugh’s, and hung near the college’s main entrance on St Margaret’s Road in north Oxford.
The college’s other notable alumni include Theresa May, Nicky Morgan, the former education secretary, and Barbara Castle, a cabinet minister in Harold Wilson’s Labour governments.
As a leader of Myanmar’s opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi won a Nobel peace prize in 1991. Despite being barred from running for president, she won a decisive victory in the country’s 2015 election, and was eventually given a title of state counsellor.
As prime minister, May has been under pressure to take action after evidence emerged that Myanmar’s military forces were driving hundreds of thousands of Rohingya out of the country.
Earlier this month May said: “Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese government need to make it very clear that the military action should stop.”
Oxford council is to vote next week on stripping Aung San Suu Kyi of the freedom of the city it bestowed on her in 1997, when she was being held as a political prisoner by Myanmar’s military junta.
So far Oxford University has decided not to reconsider Aung San Suu Kyi’s honorary degree. But last week the university expressed its “profound concern” over the treatment of the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority.
The university said it “hopes the Myanmar administration, led by Oxford alumna Aung San Suu Kyi, can eliminate discrimination and oppression, and demonstrate to the world that Myanmar values the lives of all its citizens”.
China vows to support Somalia’s peace, reconstruction
Chinese Ambassador to Somalia Qian Jian on Wednesday said China will strongly support the Horn of Africa nation’s peace and reconstruction process as part of the bilateral pact between the two countries.
Qian said Beijing had made positive contribution to Somalia in various fields including economic and social development to assist the country in acquiring political stability.
“The Chinese government has built over 80 infrastructural projects like hospitals, stadiums and roads to ease the burden of the Somali people. We have dispatched a medical team of more than 400 members in 13 batches to the country since 1991,” the envoy said in Nairobi during celebrations to mark the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Qian told the guests, among whom were top government officials and diplomats, that under the strong leadership of the Communist Party, China had over the last 68 years achieved what it would take other countries centuries to attain.
In 2016, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) hit about 11 trillion U.S. dollars and per capita GDP stood at 8,000 dollars, he said, noting that China is the second largest economy in the world.
Speaker of the House of People, Mohamed Osman Jawari, congratulated the Chinese government on the occasion and shared his country’s best wishes to the Far East nation.
“Relations between Somalia and China commenced in 1960 after we attained independence, and ever since we signed our first official trade agreement in 1963, the Somali people have been beneficiaries of Chinese benevolence in the areas of maternal and child care as well as other infrastructural largess,” Jawari said.
Trump urges ‘strong and swift’ UN action for Rohingya
US President Donald Trump wants the United Nations Security Council to take “strong and swift action” to end violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.
Speaking at a Security Council meeting on peacekeeping reform, Vice President Mike Pence accused the Myanmar military of responding to attacks on government outposts “with terrible savagery, burning villages, driving the Rohingya from their homes”.
Pence repeated a US call for the Myanmar military to end the violence and support diplomatic efforts for a long-term solution for the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in a country where many Buddhists regard them as illegal immigrants.
“President Trump and I also call on the Security Council of the United Nations to take strong and swift action to bring this crisis to an end and bring hope and help to the Rohingya people in their hour of need,” he told the 15-member council.
The security council has met twice behind closed doors since the crisis began on August 25 and last week issued an informal statement to the press condemning the situation and urging Myanmar authorities to end the violence.
“Unless this violence is stopped, which justice demands, it will only get worse. And it will sow seeds of hatred and chaos that may well consume the region for generations to come and threaten the peace of us all,” Pence said.
It was the strongest US government response yet to the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that has forced more than 420,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, fleeing a military offensive the United Nations has branded ethnic cleansing
French President Emmanuel Macron earlier Wednesday described the military’s campaign as “genocide”.
Myanmar insisted to the United Nations the crisis in Rakhine was easing after heavy international criticism.
Myanmar’s second Vice President Henry Van Thio addressed the annual UN General Assembly in place of leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who a day earlier delivered a speech calling for patience.
Van Thio’s remarks are even less likely than Suu Kyi’s to mollify global concerns as he questioned the reasons for the flight of members of the Rohingya Muslim minority.
“I am happy to inform you that the situation has improved,” Van Thio said in his address, saying there have been no clashes since September 5.
“Accordingly, we are concerned by reports that the numbers of Muslims crossing into Bangladesh remain unabated. We would need to find out the reason for this exodus,” he said.
Van Thio did not use the term Rohingya, referring to them simply as Muslims. He noted the army campaign came in response to a rebel attack and said non-Muslims have also suffered.
Myanmar’s third-in-command thanked foreign countries for support, not referring directly to their criticism.
“Humanitarian assistance is our first priority. We are committed to ensuring that aid is received by all those in need, without discrimination,” Van Thio said.
Suu Kyi’s stance has disheartened human rights groups who had campaigned for her freedom during the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s 15 years under house arrest by the ruling junta.
But analysts say Suu Kyi, while now the country’s de facto leader, may not be able to curb the army even if she took the political risk of speaking out.