Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Rakhine Advisory Board Member Denies Richardson's Departure Affects Panel's Credibility

Bill Richardson resigned from an advisory panel trying to tackle the Rohingya crisis Bill Richardson resigned from an advisory panel trying to tackle the Rohingya
| 30 January, 2018, 01:54

"She blames all the problems that Myanmar is having on the global media, on the United Nations, on human rights groups, on other governments, and I think this is caused by the bubble that is around her, by individuals that are not giving her frank advice", Richardson, once a close friend of Suu Kyi, said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city.

Richardson, a former Clinton administration cabinet member, quit as the 10-member advisory board was making its first visit to western Rakhine State, from which almost 700,000 Rohingyahave fled in recent months.

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte told Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday that she should not pay heed to the "noisy bunch" of rights activists, who have been criticising her for the way she has been handling the Rohingya crisis in her country.

The war of words has heaped embarrassment on Aung San Suu Kyi, whose star as a rights defender continues to plummet over her failure to speak out for the Rohingya in the face of overwhelming evidence of the Muslim minority group's suffering.

Until this week, Richardson was on a board tasked with implementing the recommendations of a commission helmed by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

"They're just a noisy bunch, '" Duterte said.

Richardson said Suu Kyi's response at a Monday night dinner was "furious" when he brought up the case of two Reuters reporters, who were arrested on December 12 on suspicion of violating Myanmar's Official Secrets Act.


The advisory board met with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday and discussed a work plan on the repatriation of displaced people from Bangladesh fleeing Rakhine conflict.

"The Rohingya repatriation plan offered by the Burmese terrorist government is not anywhere near to the solution but it creates more annihilation to the Rohingyas".

Since August a year ago, at least 688,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar after violence broke out in the Rakhine State and have taken shelter in Bangladesh.

A Myanmar government spokesman hit back on Thursday, accusing the former New Mexico Governor Richardson of over-stepping the mark in his stinging resignation letter.

But after a three-day visit to Myanmar, Richardson struck out at his hosts, saying he could not in "good conscience" sit on a panel he feared would only "whitewash" the causes of the Rohingya crisis.

Aung San Suu Kyi's tepid response to the crisis and failure to openly rebuke the military has punctured her reputation as a rights icon.

On January 16, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on "Physical Arrangement" which will facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland following a deal between the two countries in November past year regarding the repatriation.

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