Indonesia Urging Myanmar to Prevent Further Rakhine Violence

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi is in Myanmar for meetings Monday with leader Aung San Suu Kyi as well as the country's military commander and national security adviser to discuss the ongoing crisis in Rakhine state.

The U.N. refugee agency says 87,000 Rohingya have fled from Rakhine to neighboring Bangladesh since an eruption of violence late last month. The influx has left aid agencies struggling to keep up with demands for supplies and medical care.

Marsudi said he wanted to discuss security issues and our proposals in details, including our intention to send more humanitarian assistance to people in Rakhine.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Marsudi would urge the Myanmar government to prevent further violence, and that the foreign minister would travel on to Bangladesh to prepare humanitarian aid for those who have fled.

We regret and condemn the violence that took place in Myanmar's Rakhine state. There needs to be real action and not just criticism, Widodo said.

Hundreds of protesters have gathered at Myanmar's embassy in Jakarta for several days to rally on behalf of the Rohingya and urge the Indonesia government to accept refugees.

The latest round of violence began Aug. 25 when a group of Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts and an army base in what they said was an effort to protect their ethnic minority from persecution. Myanmar's military has said nearly 400 people have died, most of them insurgents.

The Myanmar government considers the Rohingya to be economic migrants from Bangladesh, and has never granted them citizenship, even though most can show their families have been in the country for generations.

Sectarian violence has flared up periodically in Rakhine state for more than a decade.

Last October, Muslim militants attacked police posts, prompting a crackdown by security forces that sent tens of thousands of people across the border to Bangladesh. The Myanmar government has denied allegations that its forces used rape and torture against the Rohingya.

Source: Voice of America

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