Tillerson Calls Violence Against Rohingya in Myanmar 'Ethnic Cleansing'

Rohingya refugees walk on the shore as they arrive on a makeshift boat after crossing the Bangladesh Myanmar border near Coxs Bazar Bangladesh

More than 620,000 rohingya fled to Bangladesh in August after the Myanmar army launched a military campaign against Muslims.

The premier made the call at a time when Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali was pursuing a deal with Myanmar to being the process of repatriation of the Myanmar's minority Muslims.

The deal was signed by Mahmood Ali and Myanmar Minister for State Counsellor's Office Kyauw Tint Swe.

The designation aims to "put pressure on the military in Burma", another name for Myanmar, "to act quickly" to secure conditions in Rakhine state, where the Rohingya live, and to make their repatriation possible, the officials said.

Pramila Patten, who met many Rohingya victims of sexual violence in Bangladesh camps during a visit this month, said she fully endorses the assessment by United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein that Rohingya have been victims of "ethnic cleansing".

Under the deal, the repatriation process is expected to begin in two months, diplomatic sources in Dhaka told The Hindu.

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Myint Kyaing, a permanent secretary at Myanmar's ministry of labor, immigration and population, told Reuters, "We are ready to take them back as soon as possible after Bangladesh sends the forms back to us", referring to forms the Rohingyas must complete with personal details before repatriation.

"What we're trying to do is to sign a MoU that will enable us to start the repatriation of all those refugees who've gone over the border", she told a crowded press conference at Myanmar International Convention Centre here.

It also doesn't mention a specific timeframe for concluding the repatriation, any clause for safeguarding the interest of Bangladesh and the refugees or the Rakhine Advisory Commission which recommended review of the controversial 1982 citizenship law, they added. The report recommends a register of all those who've moved into Bangladesh to be used as the basis of getting them back home.

"These Myanmar nationals are a burden on Bangladesh".

Under that agreement, Rohingya were required to present residency documents, which few have, before being allowed to return to Myanmar.

Tourists once flocked to Cox's Bazar to relax on what some consider the world's longest beach.

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The statement from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the strongest U.S. condemnation yet of the crackdown, accusing Myanmar's security forces of perpetrating "horrendous atrocities" against the group.

"I don't trust the Myanmar Government".

The term "ethnic cleansing" does not carry with it any required response under US or global law, unlike the terms "crimes against humanity" and "genocide".

While repeating U.S. condemnation of the insurgent attacks, he added: "No provocation can justify the horrendous atrocities that have ensued".

Bangladesh had seen influx of Rohingyas from Myanmar also in 1978, 1991 and 2016.

He said those responsible "must be held accountable". "These abuses by some among the Burmese military, security forces, and local vigilantes have caused tremendous suffering and forced hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children to flee their homes in Burma to seek refuge in Bangladesh", Tillerson said.

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Suu Kyi's office called Thursday's agreement a "win-win situation for both countries", saying the issue should be "resolved amicably through bilateral negotiations".

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