22 May 2024, 09:24

US says violence in Myanmar's Rakhine could lead to atrocities

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - The United States said Tuesday it was deeply troubled by increasing violence and intercommunal tension in Myanmar's Rakhine state and said this raised the risk of atrocities being committed.

Clashes have rocked Rakhine since the Arakan Army (AA) attacked security forces in November, ending a ceasefire that had largely held since the 2021 military coup.

The US State Department cited reports of towns being burned and residents including Rohingya people being displaced.

The United Nations human rights chief issued a similar warning over the weekend, saying tensions were high between ethnic Rakhine and Rohingya and that Myanmar's military junta was stoking these tensions.

"The military's previous acts of genocide and other crimes against humanity targeting Rohingya, in addition to its history of stoking intercommunal tensions in Rakhine State and elsewhere across the country, underscore the grave dangers to civilians," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

"The current increased violence and intercommunal tensions also raise the risks of further atrocities occurring," he added.

Miller called on the military regime and all armed actors to protect civilians and allow unhindered humanitarian access.

The AA is one of several armed ethnic minority groups in Myanmar's border regions, many of which have battled the military since independence from Britain in 1948 over autonomy and control of lucrative resources.

The AA claims to be fighting for more autonomy for the state's ethnic Rakhine population.

Clashes between the AA and the military in 2019 roiled the region and displaced around 200,000 people.

The military launched a crackdown on the Rohingya minority there in 2017 which is now the subject of a United Nations genocide court case.


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