Bangladesh minister calls violence a 'genocide'

Newly arrived Rohingya refugees rest on the roadside after fleeing to Bangladesh from Myanmar in Ukhiya on Sept 6, 2017.
Newly arrived Rohingya refugees rest on the roadside after fleeing to Bangladesh from Myanmar in Ukhiya on Sept 6, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA • Bangladesh's Foreign Minister said yesterday that genocide was being committed in Myanmar's violence-racked Rakhine state, triggering an exodus of nearly 300,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees to his country.

"The international community is saying it is a genocide. We also say it is a genocide," Mr A.H. Mahmood Ali told reporters after briefing diplomats in Dhaka.

He met Western and Arab diplomats and the heads of United Nations agencies based in Bangladesh to seek support for a political solution and humanitarian aid for the Rohingya.

He told the diplomats that some 300,000 Rohingya had fled to Bangladesh in the past two weeks, taking the total number of such refugees in the country to over 700,000.

"It is now a national problem," he added.

At least two diplomats who attended the briefings said the minister told them as many as 3,000 people may have been killed in the latest round of violence.

Meanwhile, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has criticised Myanmar for the continuing violence against the Muslim Rohingya, and demanded that the government allow a UN fact-finding mission to look into the situation.

Mainly Buddhist Myanmar does not recognise its stateless Muslim Rohingya community, labelling them "Bengalis", or illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline 'Bangladesh minister calls violence a 'genocide''. Print Edition | Subscribe