India calls for restraint in Rakhine


NEW DELHI, 11 September 2017: India has called for an immediate end to violence in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, urging its ally to act with restraint as hordes of Rohingya flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

“We would urge that the situation in Rakhine State be handled with restraint and maturity, focusing on the welfare of the civilian population alongside those of the security forces,” the foreign ministry said in a statement late Saturday.

“It is imperative that violence is ended and normalcy in the State restored expeditiously,” it said, adding it was concerned about the outflow of refugees.

Credit: UK FCO. Myanmar: Where to go, places to avoid.

The call came days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a state visit to the Buddhist-majority country amid spiralling violence in Rakhine that has forced nearly 300,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee.

Meanwhile, tourist officials acknowledge that the first signs of booking cancellations are showing up reported by hotels and tour operators.

They fear that the drop in advance bookings and a rash of cancellations is a response to global media coverage of the violence in Rakhine state, which is a considerable distance from the country’s tourist destinations.

Tourism officials met at the weekend to discuss how to respond to cancellations, some calling it a major setback for the country’s fledging tourism sector if travellers postpone or cancel trips.

Myanmar Tourism Marketing said on its Facebook page that Myanmar desperately needs the support of international tourists to visit country’s destinations in a sustainable manner that would spread the benefits of tourism to communities. It pointed out that all of the country’s tourist destinations are welcoming tourists and reassuring  overseas tour operators that their clients will be safe.

India’s PM condemned a series of coordinated attacks by Rohingya militants on Myanmar troops and police, late August, but did not comment on the subsequent violence against the Rohingya and their mass exodus.

Fleeing Rohingya accuse the security forces of mass killings and rapes and the burning of hundreds of villages.

Myanmar does not want its 1.1 million Rohingya, who are seen as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and are refused citizenship.

Successive regimes have historically discriminated against them even though many have lived for three generations in Rakhine state.

(Additional reporting by TTR Weekly)

© Agence France-Presse