Erdogan accuses Myanmar of ‘Buddhist terror’ against Rohingya

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of the Republic of Turkey. (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2017
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Erdogan accuses Myanmar of ‘Buddhist terror’ against Rohingya

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the security forces in Myanmar of waging a “Buddhist terror” against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the country, hundreds of thousands of whom have fled to Bangladesh.
Erdogan, who has repeatedly highlighted the plight of the Rohingya, again accused the Yangon government of carrying out a “genocide” against the people in Rakhine state.
In a speech in Istanbul, Erdogan lamented the failure of the international community to lay sanctions against the Myanmar government over its campaign.
“There is a very clear genocide over there,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan, who has held talks by phone with Myanmar’s key leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung Sang Suu Kyi, added: “Buddhists always get represented as envoys of goodwill. At the moment, there is a clear Buddhist terror in Myanmar... I don’t know how you can gloss over this with yoga, schmoga. This is a fact here. And all humanity needs to know this.”
Erdogan takes a sharp interest in the fate of Muslim communities across the world and notably sees himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause.
Returning for a key personal theme, he lambasted the international community for being quick to denounce “Islamic terror” but not “Christian terror,” “Jewish terror” or “Buddhist terror.”
Erdogan’s remarks came as UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Bangladesh must not force Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar to move to camps on a desolate island.
Authorities have stepped up moves to house the Rohingya on the island in the Bay of Bengal since a new surge which now totals 436,000 refugees started arriving on Aug. 25.
Grandi said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had mentioned the relocation plan when they met in July. There were already 300,000 Rohingya in camps near the border at Cox’s Bazar before the latest influx started.
But he insisted that any move from the camps to Bhashan Char island — also known as Thengar Char — “has to be voluntary on the part of the refugees.”
“We cannot force people to go to the place. So the option for the medium term, let’s say — I don’t want to talk about long-term — has to be also something that is acceptable to the people that go there,” he said.
“Otherwise it won’t work. Otherwise people won’t go.”
The UN has praised Bangladesh for taking in the Rohingya, who fled a military crackdown in Myanmar. It has appealed for international help for the authorities.
“It is good to think ahead. These people (Rohingya) may not be able to go back very quickly and especially now the population has now doubled,” Grandi told a Dhaka press briefing.
The UNHCR chief said his agency was ready to help the island plan with a “technical study of the options.
“That’s all that we are ready to give. We are not giving it yet because I have not seen any concrete options on any paper.”
The small island in the estuary of the Meghna river is a one-hour boat ride from Sandwip, the nearest inhabited island, and two hours from Hatiya, one of Bangladesh’s largest islands.
The government has tasked the navy with making it ready for the Rohingya. Two helipads and a small road have been built.
The authorities first proposed settling the Rohingya there in 2015, as the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar became overstretched.
But the plan was apparently shelved last year amid reports that the silty island, which only emerged from the sea in 2006, was often unhabitable due to regular tidal flooding.
In recent weeks, Bangladesh has appealed for international support to move the Rohingya to the island as the impoverished nation struggles to cope with the influx
More than 436,000 refugees have crossed the border from Myanmar’s Rakhine state since August 25 when a military crackdown was launched following attacks by Rohingya militants.
There is not enough food, water or medicine to go around. Roads around the camps are littered with human excrement, fueling UN fears that serious disease could quickly break out.


Kuril islands: strategic chain at heart of Russia-Japan dispute

Updated 35 min 31 sec ago
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Kuril islands: strategic chain at heart of Russia-Japan dispute

  • Soviet troops seized the Kuril Islands from Japan in the final days of World War II
  • The islands are rich in hot springs and minerals and rare metals such as rhenium

MOSCOW: Called the Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan, a string of volcanic islands are at the heart of a feud between the two countries that has prevented them signing a formal World War II peace treaty.
Talks stalled for decades due to Japan’s claim to the four strategic islands seized by the Soviet army in the final days of the war.
Here are some key facts about the Kuril islands:

• The disputed islands of Iturup (Etorofu in Japanese), Kunashir (Kunashiri), Shikotan and Habomai lie at their closest point just a few kilometers (miles) off the north coast of Hokkaido in Japan.
They are the southernmost islands in a volcanic chain that separates the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean.
They are located to the southeast of the Russian island of Sakhalin and are administratively part of the same region, although Tokyo considers them part of its Hokkaido prefecture and “illegally occupied by Russia.”

• Russian Empress Catherine the Great claimed sovereignty over the Kuril islands in 1786 after her government declared they were discovered by “Russian explorers” and therefore “undoubtedly must belong to Russia.”
In the first treaty between tsarist Russia and Japan in 1855, the frontier between the two countries was drawn just north of the four islands closest to Japan.
Twenty years later in 1875, a new treaty handed Tokyo the entire chain, in exchange for Russia gaining full control of the island of Sakhalin.
Japan seized back control of the southern half of Sakhalin after its crushing defeat of Moscow in the 1905 Russo-Japanese War.

• The Kuril islands have been back at the center of a dispute between Moscow and Tokyo since Soviet troops invaded them in the final days of World War II.
The USSR only entered into war with Japan on August 9, 1945, just after the United States had dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
The Soviet troops completed the takeover of the islands after Japan’s general surrendered later that month.


Russia argues that then US president Franklin Roosevelt promised Soviet leader Joseph Stalin he could take back the Kurils in exchange for joining the war against Japan when they met at the Yalta conference in February 1945 at which the Allied leaders divided up the post-war world.
The Soviet capture of the islands has since prevented Moscow and Tokyo from signing a formal peace treaty to end the war, despite repeated attempts over the past 70 years to reach an agreement.
In 1956, Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev first offered to give Japan the two smallest islands, Shikotan and Habomai, in exchange for signing a peace treaty but dropped the idea after Tokyo struck a military alliance with the United States.

Rich in hot springs and rare metals
Strategically, control of the islands ensures Russia has year-round access to the Pacific Ocean for its Pacific Fleet of warships and submarines based in Vladivostok, as the strait between Kunashir and Iturup does not freeze over in winter.
Russia has military bases on the archipelago and has deployed missile systems on the islands.
The islands’ current population is around 20,000 people.
After numerous meetings over the past few years between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin, they have launched various economic projects on the islands in areas such as the farming of fish and shellfish, wind-generated energy, and tourism, though Moscow says investment is still meagre.
Since 2017, the two countries have also agreed on charter flights for Japanese former inhabitants to visit family graves there.
The islands are rich in hot springs and minerals and rare metals such as rhenium, which is used in the production of supersonic aircraft.