M Mushfiqul Fazal from Washington, Sep 8 (Just News): The US said they are deeply concerned by the troubling situation in Burma’s northern Rakhine State, urging authorities to allow humanitarian access to Rakhine state amid reports of violence against the Rohingya minority.
The United States has said it is working through the United Nations and other international organizations to assist tens of thousands of civilians who have fled to Bangladesh since August the 25th.
“We are also communicating with Burma's neighbors and other concerned international partners on efforts to end the violence and assist affected communities there,” said Heather Nauert, Spokesperson at the US Department of States in a regular briefing in Washington, DC on Thursday.
At the briefing JustNewsBD editor M Mushfiqul Fazal asked that will the US authority urge Bangladesh to allow Rohingya refugees to get into Bangladesh?
In response Heather said i know it is a difficult situation for Bangladesh, as it is for any country, to absorb refugees. We have provided -I believe it’s about $55 million this year in -to Burmese refugees not only in Burma, but I believe also in Bangladesh.
“There has been a significant displacement of local populations, following serious allegations of human rights abuses, including mass burnings of Rohingya villages and violence conducted by security forces and also armed civilians,” said the Spokesperson.
The US urged all in Burma, including in the Rakhine State, to avoid actions that exacerbate tensions there.
“We welcome the Government of Burma's acknowledgement of the need to protect all communities and its pledge to implement recommendations of the Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State aimed at addressing long-standing challenges that predate the country's democratic transition. We call on authorities to facilitate immediate access to affected communities that are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance,” said the Spokesperson.
Responding to a question, she said, “We’d like to certainly call on the Government of Burma to allow better, greater access for reporters and journalists to be able to enter that country and be able to provide accurate information about what's going on the ground.”
“There also remains a humanitarian situation, where it is very difficult for humanitarian aid groups to be able to get in and provide the supplies and the support that is necessary, she said adding that “We are continuing to have conversations with the government, not only about the violence there, but also about those issues of journalists and also, perhaps more importantly, the humanitarian aid situation.”
Below the question-answer script of the briefing:
QUESTION: So why don’t we go right back to Myanmar? You said in your statement just now that the U.S. welcomes the call from the Government of Burma for the need to protect all different communities. That certainly hasn’t been the predominant message from Aung San Suu Kyi’s government in the last several weeks. Do you – does the U.S. have confidence or faith at this point in the efforts or desire of the Government of Myanmar to protect the Rohingya community?
MS NAUERT: Well, I think there are a few things going on there. As you all as journalists who are passionate about foreign affairs well know, that it is a difficult place to get information from. It’s difficult to get access to. We’d like to certainly call on the Government of Burma to allow better, greater access for reporters and journalists to be able to enter that country and be able to provide accurate information about what’s going on on the ground. There also remains a humanitarian situation, where it is very difficult for humanitarian aid groups to be able to get in and provide the supplies and the support that is necessary. We are continuing to have conversations with the government, not only about the violence there, but also about those issues of journalists and also, perhaps more importantly, the humanitarian aid situation.
Our ambassador over there, he and I – Ambassador Scot Marciel – exchanged emails earlier today to talk a little bit about the situation. He’s been on a plane and has met numerous times with the government – three times, in fact – in I believe it was just this week alone. So we remain very engaged in that.
QUESTION: So the U.S. does have tools at your disposal. Obviously, we had a pretty broad sanctions regime against Myanmar; some of that has been lifted in recent years. Is the U.S. considering putting back sanctions or adding new sanctions to try to push back on these allegations of human rights violations that you were just describing?
MS NAUERT: I think – and I don’t want to sound like a broken record on the issue of sanctions, but it’s something that we don’t want to get ahead of the conversations that we’re having. We’re having diplomatic conversations at this point; any potential sanctions are just not something that I could comment on this time. Either – assuming that they might happen, or might not happen.
QUESTION: Heather, the leader --
MS NAUERT: Let’s stay on this issue before we switch to the next one.
QUESTION: Yeah, on Burma.
MS NAUERT: Yeah.
QUESTION: The leader claims, Aung San Suu Kyi – she claims that this started by fake news. Is --
MS NAUERT: She – say that again? She what?
QUESTION: This whole crisis --
MS NAUERT: Yes.
QUESTION: -- is stoked by fake news and the trading of fake news and so on. Now, the U.S. – has the U.S. been able to authenticate the calamity that is taking place and the size of it on its own?
MS NAUERT: Well, that’s exactly why I mention how difficult it is. I mean, there – it is a difficult country to get into. It is a difficult country to get around. It doesn’t have the roads and infrastructure that many other countries do have. So it’s a difficult terrain in order to be able to get the facts on the ground that are accurate. That’s why we certainly call on that country to help facilitate journalists being able to come in, aid groups to be able to come in. We work with those organizations, the aid groups, very closely and carefully in order to try to best assess the situation. It’s a complicated situation. It’s a complicated country and the situation going on there. We don’t want to do anything that would inflame tensions. But we hope that we can get more solid information from the ground there.
Okay. Hey, Michelle.
QUESTION: Hi. What kind of engagement has Secretary Tillerson himself had on this issue in the last two weeks? Have there been phone calls? How has he been involved?
MS NAUERT: This is something that I know the Secretary cares about. This is something where we have phone calls and diplomatic conversations that have certainly been had at various levels. I don’t have any calls to read out for you right now. But as we do, I will certainly let you know. Okay?
QUESTION: Can I follow up?
MS NAUERT: Hi, Elise.
QUESTION: Hi. It seems as if – we haven’t really heard from Secretary Tillerson about any diplomatic efforts going on. Is that because you don’t feel like you want to discuss them right now, or is that because the administration is leading with more of a kind of deterrent message on the North --
MS NAUERT: On this specific issue, you’re talking about Burma?
QUESTION: Oh, sorry.
MS NAUERT: Are you talking about Burma, or are we moving on to North Korea?
QUESTION: Sorry. We’re moving on to North Korea.
MS NAUERT: (Laughter.) Okay. Elise, wake up this morning.
QUESTION: Sorry. (Laughter.)
MS NAUERT: Okay. Let’s stick with Burma before we move on to something else, please. Anybody else on Burma? Hi there.
QUESTION: So are you saying the Secretary hasn’t spoken to anyone on --
MS NAUERT: No, I just don’t have any calls to read out for you at this time. This is a subject that has come up a lot. A lot of people are talking about this here at the State Department. You all are focusing on this now. Our ambassador has made three trips to the capital this week alone. And so it’s something that we just continue to focus on, and we will continue to monitor it.
QUESTION: Do you have any – do you think Aung San Suu Kyi is doing enough to prevent the violence?
MS NAUERT: Look, there is access – very, very limited, if any, access to humanitarian needs and equipment and supplies. That would be one of our top concerns. We’re concerned about the violence there – that includes allegations of violence conducted by both security forces and civilians. We would like all sides to try to calm the tensions. What we’ve seen there has been very concerning to the U.S. Government as we care about what is happening to the population there. The U.S. Embassy is following the developments very closely. And let me just again mention that it’s very difficult to verify some of the reports in light of the security situation there. I’ll just – I’ll leave it at that.
QUESTION: Obviously, we all would like to have more access for journalists in Myanmar, but you guys have an embassy in Nay Pyi Taw. You’re not saying that the U.S. can’t determine whether or not the allegations are fake news unless there’s more --
MS NAUERT: There – some of these areas are areas of open conflict, which we can’t necessarily get out there and get on the ground as State Department employees when there is open conflict there.
QUESTION: Have American diplomats been in Rakhine State to try to look at this?
MS NAUERT: I can look into that for you. I don’t know if we’ve had anybody exactly right there.
Okay, let’s move on to – let’s move on to something else.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say on whether you think Aung San Suu Kyi should keep her Nobel Peace Prize?
MS NAUERT: I wouldn’t have anything to comment on that. That would be up for the prize – yes.
QUESTION: Do you urge Bangladesh authority to allow Rohingya refugees in their country as thousands of Rohingya refugees in the border to get into Bangladesh?
MS NAUERT: I know it is a difficult situation for Bangladesh, as it is for any country, to absorb refugees. We have provided – I believe it’s about $55 million this year in – to Burmese refugees not only in Burma, but I believe also in Bangladesh. If I have anything more for you on that, I’ll get that to you.