US Diplomat Resigns From Suu Kyi Panel On Rakhine Crisis

Marsha Scott
January 27, 2018

More than 655,000 Rohingyas have crossed into Bangladesh since August 25, 2017, escaping a military crackdown in Rakhine state, which many countries and human rights bodies have described as "ethnic cleansing".

"In view of the difference of opinion that developed, the government decided that his continued participation on the board would not be in the best interest of all concerned", the office said in an English statement posted on Facebook. But the gradual repatriation has been delayed amid widespread fears that they are being forced to return, a Bangladesh official said Monday.

Bill Richardson, a long friend of Suu Kyi, said that the panel was a "whitewash" and accused the Burmese leader of lacking "moral leadership, ' reported BBC News".

But now the Myanmar government is claiming that it made the decision to dump the former New Mexico Governor and Clinton administration cabinet member.

"He should review himself over his personal attack against our State Counsellor", government spokesman Zaw Htay told AFP.

"What we don't want is to have Aung San Suu Kyi just listen to ASEAN countries, China or Russian Federation".

Richardson said Suu Kyi's response at a Monday night dinner was "furious" when he brought up the case of two Reuters reporters, who were arrested on December 12 on suspicion of violating Myanmar's Official Secrets Act.

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It is thought they had been reporting on atrocities committed by security forces in Rakhine. She has experienced sustained worldwide condemnation in recent months regarding her perceived silence over the exodus of Rohingya refugees from northern Rakhine's Maungdaw District following military operations there.

Aung San Suu Kyi's tepid response to the crisis and failure to openly rebuke the military has punctured her reputation as a rights icon.

Bill Richardson, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and governor of the state of New Mexico, has resigned from his post within an global panel established by the government of Myanmar to help organize the return of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi's government said on Friday it did not want discuss the details of the exchange between Suu Kyi and Richardson any further. While he joined in hopes of working on a long-term solution to the plight of the Rohingya in Burma, also known as Myanmar, "I discovered that this board was being used as a cheerleading squad for the government".

After his three-day visit to Myanmar, the diplomat said he was shocked by the panel members' disparagement of the media, the United Nations, human rights groups and the global community.

The Advisory Board's statement urged the government to allow United Nations humanitarian work in conflict zones and access to media as soon as possible.

"Bill Richardson was making his comments too early and it's very unfortunate from that angle", South African national and panel member Roelof Petrus Meyer told reporters in Yangon.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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