Rohingya militants say cease-fire to end on October 9

Rohingya refugees walk along the Balukhali refugee camp after the rain in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Reuters)
Updated 07 October 2017

Rohingya militants say cease-fire to end on October 9

YANGON: Rohingya militants whose attacks triggered an army crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state unleashing a huge wave of refugees said Saturday their one-month cease-fire would end in two days, but added they were open to peace if the government reciprocated.
In a statement released through its Twitter account, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) said its unilateral truce would end at midnight on October 9.
“The humanitarian pause was conducted in order to enable humanitarian actors to assess and respond to the humanitarian crisis in Arakan (Rakhine),” the statement said.
“If at any stage, the Burmese government is inclined to peace, then ARSA will welcome that inclination and reciprocate,” it said, using the former name for Myanmar.
It did not include any direct threats of new violence.
The armed group tipped northern Rakhine into crisis when it ambushed police posts on August 25.
The army’s reprisal has been so sweeping and savage that the UN says it likely amounts to ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority, who have faced decades of persecution.
More than half a million Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh in six weeks, an exodus that has spiraled into one of the world’s most urgent refugee crises.
In its statement, ARSA said it had helped provide “safe passage” to refugees fleeing to Bangladesh.
While the worst of the bloodshed appears to have abated in recent weeks, tens of thousands of Rohingya continue to stream over to Bangladesh, passing through a violence-scarred region where hundreds of villages have been reduced to smoldering ash.
Rohingya refugees and rights groups have accused the army of setting the fires with the help of Buddhist vigilante mobs.
But the military has denied the charge, instead accusing militants of razing their own homes to drum up global support.
Myanmar authorities have cut off access to the conflict zone, making it difficult to verify claims over who is driving the communal bloodshed that has intensified already bitter ethnic hatreds in Myanmar.
Aid groups have also been unable to reach vulnerable communities of Muslim Rohingya still living in the region, where tensions with Rakhine Buddhist neighbors are sky-high.
It is difficult to measure the fighting capacity of ARSA, a shadowy, poorly-armed group that claims to defend the Rohingya’s political rights.
In the squalid refugee settlements sprouting up in Bangladesh, alleged ARSA recruiters have told AFP that they have enlisted hundreds who are willing to go back to Myanmar to fight.
Those claims could not be independently verified.
The Rohingya have faced decades of systematic repression in mainly Buddhist Myanmar, with many relegated to apartheid-like restrictions that analysts have long warned could breed extremism.
The government denies the existence of the Rohingya ethnicity, instead describing them as “Bengali” interlopers.
The view is widely shared by the Buddhist majority, who have shown little sympathy for the Rohingya, lavishing unexpected support on an army that once ruled the country with an iron fist.


Brussels to ‘rebuild’ ties with UK after Boris win: EU Internal Market Commissioner

Updated 50 min 39 sec ago

Brussels to ‘rebuild’ ties with UK after Boris win: EU Internal Market Commissioner

  • Both sides then still need to thrash out a new trade and security agreement
  • Any future trade deal had to ensure that the EU’s social and environmental norms were also applied to trade with Britain

PARIS: The EU will have to rebuild its ties with London after Boris Johnson’s election victory which is likely to lead to Brexit in January, the EU’s Internal Market Commissioner said on Friday.
“We now have to rebuild relations with Great Britain which is an important partner,” Thierry Breton told French RTL radio, saying the bloc wanted “balanced” trade relations with the UK.
With almost all results declared for the 650-seat British parliament, Johnson’s Conservative party has secured a sweeping victory and he is now expected to deliver on his promise to “Get Brexit Done.”
His majority should allow him to get the divorce deal he struck with Brussels through parliament in time to meet the next Brexit deadline of January 31.
Both sides then still need to thrash out a new trade and security agreement.
Breton said he expected the European Council meeting Friday in Brussels to give the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier a new mandate for talks with London.
He said Britain was a very important trade partner for the EU, “but we are by far the biggest trading partner for Britain.”
Any future trade deal had to ensure that the EU’s social and environmental norms were also applied to trade with Britain.