YANGON, Sept 13, (Agencies): Al-Qaeda militants have called for support for Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, who are facing a security crackdown that has sent about 400,000 of them fleeing to Bangladesh, warning that Myanmar would face “punishment” for its “crimes”. The exodus of Muslim refugees from Buddhist-majority Myanmar was sparked by a fierce security force response to a series of Rohingya militant attacks on police and army posts in the country’s west on Aug 25. The Islamist group behind the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the Untied States issued a statement urging Muslims around the world to support their fellow Muslims in Myanmar with aid, weapons and “military support”.
“The savage treatment meted out to our Muslim brothers … shall not pass without punishment,” al-Qaeda said in a statement, according to the SITE monitoring group. “The government of Myanmar shall be made to taste what our Muslim brothers have tasted.” Myanmar says its security forces are engaged in a legitimate campaign against “terrorists”, whom it blames for attacks on the police and army, and on civilians. The government has warned of bomb attacks in cities, and al Qaeda’s call to arms is likely to compound those concerns. “We call upon all mujahid brothers in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines to set out for Burma to help their Muslim brothers, and to make the necessary preparations – training and the like – to resist this oppression,” the group said.
Meanwhile, with Myanmar drawing condemnation for violence that has driven at least 370,000 Rohingya to flee the country, the government said Wednesday its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will skip this month’s UN General Assembly.
Suu Kyi will miss the assembly, which opened Tuesday and runs through Sept. 25, in order to address domestic security issues, according to presidential office spokesman Zaw Htay. Suu Kyi is not Myanmar’s president — her official titles are state counselor and foreign minister — but she effectively serves as leader of the Southeast Asian nation. Zaw Htay said that, with President Htin Kyaw hospitalized, second Vice President Henry Van Tio would attend the UN meeting. “The first reason (Suu Kyi cannot attend) is because of the Rakhine terrorist attacks,” Zaw Htay said.
“The state counselor is focusing to calm the situation in Rakhine state. There are circumstances. The second reason is, there are people inciting riots in some areas. We are trying to take care of the security issue in many other places. The third is that we are hearing that there will be terrorist attacks and we are trying to address this issue.”
Meanwhile, US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday he would not support a resolution targeting Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi over the treatment of the country’s Rohingya Muslims, and said Washington should not be “lecturing” her. “I don’t favor a resolution going after her,” McConnell, who has been engaged with issues related to Myanmar, also known as Burma, for years. “I think she’s the greatest hope that we have to move Burma from where it has been, a military dictatorship, to where I hope it’s going.”
Senators John McCain, a Republican, and Richard Durbin, a Democrat, introduced a resolution last week condemning the violence and urging Suu Kyi to act. But McConnell said he did not support the resolution.
The Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is canning plans to expand US military ties with Myanmar because of its persecution of minority Rohingya (ROH’-hin-GAH’) Muslims. Sen John McCain said in a statement Tuesday that he had hoped for greater US engagement with Myanmar after it transitioned to civilian government last year, ending decades of military rule in the Southeast Asian nation. But he said circumstances have changed, with 370,000 Rohingya fl eeing violence and destruction in the last month in what the United Nations has described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”