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Myanmar denies visa to UK parliament committee


ANI Nay Pyi Taw [Myanmar]
The Myanmar embassy in London has rejected visas to a British parliamentary delegation, the group said on Tuesday.
"Today, the Burmese Embassy has failed to provide visas for the International Development Committee to travel to Burma [Myanmar]," a statement said.
The cross-party parliament committee's visit was planned as part of the committee's "inquiry into the Department for International Development's work in Bangladesh and Burma".
"We are extremely disappointed. It is hard to escape the conclusion that this is a direct consequence of our report on Rohingyas," Labour MP and committee chair Stephen Twigg said following the refusal of visas.
"Planned meetings with government ministers and military personnel in Nay Pyi Taw, including with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, have been cancelled," Twigg said.
"I will be seeking to raise this on the floor of the House [of Commons] tomorrow (Wednesday)."
The committee's first report in this inquiry on the Rohingya Crisis was published on January 2018, expressing "grave concerns over Burma's treatment of the Rohingyas, their mass displacement and plans to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas back to Burma without safeguards", Anadolu news agency reported.
The report also highlighted "evidence that sexual violence, including rape, remained a weapon of war used by the Burmese military".
It also said there is a "grave risk" in plans for repatriation for Rohingyas refugees to Myanmar without the understanding of their legal status, destination and willingness to return.
The group said the plans to begin repatriation for the displaced Rohingya people from Bangladesh to Burma are well "underway without evidence of consultation" or involvement with the community.
The report titled "Bangladesh and Burma: the Rohingya crisis" published on Monday suggested that "continuing engagement" with Myanmar "seems to have been interpreted as tacit acceptance of the treatment of the Rohingyas".
"Previous episodes of displacement and return of the Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities over the last 20 years do not inspire confidence," it added.
"It is unacceptable to propose that the Rohingyas be returned to live in Burmese-run internment camps; inevitably to be faced with further privations, potential abuses and uncertain access for outside agencies; and likely only to be displaced once again if there is further violence."
The committee urged British ministers to "reflect on why so much evidence of discrimination, marginalisation, and abuse of the Rohingyas in Myanmar was seemingly ignored for so long, rather than translated into effective action by the international community".
The Rohingyas, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
About 750,000 refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar Since August 25 last year when Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to the UN.
In a report published on December 12, the global humanitarian organisation said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.
The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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First Published: Feb 28 2018 | 7:20 AM IST

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