Dhaka, Naypyidaw agree to start Rohingya return in two months

  • Dhaka, Naypyidaw agree to start Rohingya return in two months

Dhaka, Naypyidaw agree to start Rohingya return in two months

22 toughened its stance on Myanmar, accusing the country's security forces of perpetrating "horrendous atrocities" against the Rohingya that amount to "ethnic cleansing" of the Muslim minority.22 toughened its stance on Myanmar, accusing the country's security forces of perpetrating "horrendous atrocities" against the Rohingya that amount to "ethnic cleansing" of the Muslim minority.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the actions taken by Myanmar against the Rohingya were clearly "ethnic cleansing".

Almost 620,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar this year for neighbouring Bangladesh, driven out by a military operation in Rakhine State following attacks on police posts on August 25.

"The United States will also pursue accountability through US law, including possible targeted sanctions".

However, the government of Myanmar announced no details of the plan, which was immediately criticized by Amnesty International.

The scope of the repatriation - how many Rohingya will be allowed back - and the timeline remain unclear. The military operation against the Rohingya has triggered a major refugee crisis in the region.

The statement from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who visited Myanmar last week, is the strongest USA condemnation yet of the crisis.

Most Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, which is one of the world's poorest countries.

While the army insists it has only targeted Rohingya rebels, refugees massing in Bangladeshi camps have given chilling and consistent accounts of widespread murder, rape and arson at the hands of security forces and Buddhist mobs.

Following talks between Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Dhaka's Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, and after weeks of tussling over the terms of repatriation, the two sides inked a deal in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw on Thursday.

Washington says Suu Kyi has a crucial role to play in tackling the crisis but has been careful to focus blame on the army.

The term "ethnic cleansing" first surfaced in the context of the 1990s conflict in former Yugoslavia, when a United Nations commission defined it as "rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area". "The global community must impose a comprehensive arms embargo and targeted financial sanctions against senior Myanmar military officials responsible for crimes against humanity", said Joanne Lin, national director of advocacy and government relations for Amnesty worldwide USA.

On the contrary, what he had said on November 15 was "Whether it (atrocities) meets all the criteria of ethnic cleansing we continue to determine ourselves". "What we know occurred in Rakhine state ... has a number of characteristics of crimes against humanity".

According to the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention, "ethnic cleansing" is not recognized as an independent crime under worldwide law either - unlike "crimes against humanity" and "genocide".