Alarm Grows Among Myanmar’s Neighbors Over Violence in Rakhine State

Rohingya men in Myanmar

Rohingya men in Myanmar. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Myanmar’s neighbors reacted with growing concern Wednesday as the International Organization of Migration (IOM) said that more than 18,000 Rohingya Muslims had fled their homes within the past week after a spate of violence erupted in Rakhine state.

In Dhaka, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called on the United States to pressure Myanmar into stopping the influx of Rohingya into her country’s southeastern region from Rakhine, which is just across the border.

Hasina had just met in the Bangladeshi capital with Alice Wells, the acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs.

“The prime minister told [Wells] that Bangladesh has given shelter to them on humanitarian grounds, but it’s now a big problem for us,” Ihsanul Karim, Hasina’s press secretary, told reporters.

The exodus along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border started after Rohingya insurgents launched coordinated attacks on 30 police outposts and an army base in the Myanmar townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung on Friday.

Officials said the attacks killed more than 100 people, including dozens of insurgents, and provoked new clashes as the government stepped up efforts to stop the chaos.

In Jakarta on Wednesday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi urged Myanmar to curb civilian casualties and prodded Bangladesh to accept fleeing refugees.

The top diplomat of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation told a news conference that she planned to travel to Myanmar soon to witness conditions among Rohingya communities in Rakhine state, according to Merdeka, an Indonesian media outlet.

A day earlier, Retno contacted Bangladesh’s foreign minister and also spoke with Myanmar National Security Adviser Thaung Tun to discuss “the disproportionate use of force by Myanmar security forces in Rakhine state,” according to Turkish news agency Anadolu.

Marsudi said she talked to the official over the phone and asked Myanmar to “avoid civilian casualties amid the violence” and to provide protection to the Rohingya community.

“This security protection is a humanitarian concern; it has to include the people of Rakhine state,” Marsudi said.

Full story:

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, with additional reporting by Kyaw Zaw Win, Htet Arkar and Aung Theinkha for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Copyright © 1998-2017, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.

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