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Foreign Diplomats Visit Violence-Racked Rakhine

  • VOA News

Foreign diplomats and aid workers were given access to Myanmar's Rakhine state Friday for the first time in weeks following a surge in violence against police and the Muslim minority.

The government had restricted travel to the area since early October.

"We hope that this is the first step for greater access for us to resume humanitarian assistance," U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel told reporters.

Britain's ambassador and EU and U.N. officials were also invited to visit by the government earlier this week. Following a two-day visit to Rakhine state, U.N. coordinator Renata Lok-Dessallien called on Myanmar's government to launch an independent investigation into human rights abuses there.

The U.S. State Department, activists, and rights groups also have raised concerns about reports of rape and murder in Rakhine state, and they have renewed questions about the region's prospects for peace after so many years of tension.

FILE - Rohingya people pass their time in a damaged shelter in Rohingya IDP camp outside Sittwe, Rakhine state, Aug. 4, 2015.

FILE - Rohingya people pass their time in a damaged shelter in Rohingya IDP camp outside Sittwe, Rakhine state, Aug. 4, 2015.

But Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto leader of the country, said her government will not blame any group until authorities have all the evidence.

"All of this will be made public as soon as we gather evidence, and it will go through due process of law," she told a press conference in Tokyo during a trip to Japan.

Last month, tensions in Rakhine state worsened when militants killed nine border police on October 9. Constitutionally, the military handles security matters and moved forces into the area. At least five soldiers and 33 insurgents have been killed in clashes.

In 2012, violence erupted between the Rakhine Buddhist majority and Rohingya Muslim minority. The United Nations Human Rights Council counts 145,000 displaced people as a result.

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