US 'deeply troubled' by reports of increased violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state

State Department calls on Myanmar's military, armed actors to protect civilians, allow for unhindered humanitarian access

Iclal Turan  | 22.05.2024 - Update : 22.05.2024
US 'deeply troubled' by reports of increased violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state


The US said Tuesday that it is deeply troubled by reports of increased violence and displacement of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's Rakhine state amid fighting between the Myanmar military and the rebel Arakan Army (AA).

“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.

“We call on Burma’s (Myanmar’s) military, as well as all armed actors, to protect civilian populations and allow for unhindered humanitarian access,” Miller said, adding that the US encourages international partners to condemn the increased violence, hold perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable, and provide protection to those fleeing violence.

The US will impose costs on the military and other armed actors who commit abuses, Miller stressed.

On Saturday, the Arakan Army, an armed ethnic group in Myanmar, claimed that it took complete control of Buthidaung, home to the ethnic Rohingya population, near the Bangladesh border after the regime’s Strategic Military Command in the northern Rakhine state township fell.

The group said it seized four light infantry battalion headquarters and two border guard bases in the township this week amid continued clashes outside Buthidaung, with the rebels chasing "retreating" junta soldiers.

Buthidaung has had the largest Rohingya population since a massive wave of violence against the Rohingya in 2017 by the Myanmar army.

The reported seizure of Buthidaung by the Arakan Army has triggered a fresh exodus, displacing 150,000 Rohingya Muslims, according to the Free Rohingya Coalition, a global network of Rohingya activists who share common concerns about Myanmar’s human rights violations.

Displaced residents are still inside the township, with many fleeing to rural areas, according to the rights group.

Some 600,000 members of the mostly Muslim ethnic group remain in the state, while more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

They have been residing in congested refugee camps in Bangladesh's southeastern Cox's Bazar district.

The Arakan Army suspended a cease-fire agreement in November that had been in place since the February 2021 military coup d’etat.

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