Myanmar army replaces general in charge of Rakhine operation

Pope Francis is seen silhouetted at the Vatican on 11 November 2017

Pope Francis is seen silhouetted at the Vatican on 11 November 2017

In a report, United Nations investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since late August, driven out by a counter-insurgency clearance operation in Rakhine state that a top United Nations official has called a classic case of "ethnic cleansing".

However, in a statement issued by military chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing late Monday cleared soldiers of all the allegations.

AI, on the other hand, said with more than 600,000 women, men and children having fled Rakhine State in recent months fearing for their lives, there is overwhelming evidence that the military has murdered and raped Rohingya and burned their villages to the ground.

"After recording countless stories of horror and using satellite analysis to track the growing devastation we can only reach one conclusion: these attacks amount to crimes against humanity".

"The Myanmar military has made clear it has no intention of ensuring accountability; it's now up to the worldwide community to step up to ensure these appalling abuses do not go unpunished".

On Friday, the Myanmar military replaced the commanding officer in Rakhine state.

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No reason was given why Major General Maung Maung Soe was transferred from his post as the head of Western Command in Rakhine, where Myanmar's military, known as the Tatmadaw, launched a sweeping counter-insurgency operation in August.

The report has been widely criticized by several human rights groups in the region. "Those responsible for abuses must be held accountable", Adams said.

Nor were there any killings or beating of villagers, and the security forces did not carry out any looting or set fire to Rohingya mosques, it said.

The migration agency is also concerned about forced and early marriages among the Rohingya, he said. He added that the British government is appalled by the atrocities being committed in Rakhine State.

Some U.S. senators are now pursuing legislation to impose economic and travel sanctions on the armed forces and their business interests.

Irish musician and activist Bob Geldof also called Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi "a handmaiden to genocide".

However, it was still unknown whether the meeting will tackle the ongoing Rohingya Muslim minority crisis in Myanmar, a controversial issue for Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate who has been accused of not doing enough to solve the crisis.

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On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman stated that the crisis in Myanmar "looks like ethnic cleansing". Separately on the margins of the ASEAN summit here, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also met Suu Kyi and discussed the humanitarian crisis in the Rakhine state.

"And it is something for which the Burmese authorities - and especially the military - must take full responsibility".

The U.N. migration agency reports that human trafficking and exploitation are rife among Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh, not only recently but in past years, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at U.N. headquarters in NY.

Noting that some Rohingya refugees have been trafficked outside Bangladesh, Millman said: "Most of the trafficking is taking place inside the country, which follows the pattern of trafficking globally".

"I can not hide my deep concern with the dramatic movement of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh".

Washington, D.C. -based Refugees International called on Tillerson on Tuesday to recognize the Rohingya crisis as ethnic cleansing, a term that the USA government has so far refused to use.

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