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Erdogan continues telephone diplomacy on Myanmar crisis

In phone conversations, Erdogan presses leaders of Kazakhstan, Senegal, and Nigeria on crisis of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims

September 3, 2017 at 11:26 am

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (not seen) with an official welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on August 28, 2017. ( Mehmet Ali Özcan – Anadolu Agency )

In holiday greetings to his Kazakh, Senegalese, and Nigerian counterparts, Turkey’s president on Saturday stressed the importance of working together to solve the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, according to presidential sources.

The sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on talking to the media, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave Eid-al Adha greetings in telephone calls to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Senegal’s President Macky Sall, and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

Earlier this week, Erdogan also discussed the crisis in Myanmar on the phone with the leaders of Pakistan, Iran, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, and Bangladesh.

Violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine state on August 25 when the country’s security forces launched an operation against the Rohingya Muslim community. It triggered a fresh influx of refugees towards neighboring Bangladesh, though the country sealed off its border to the refugees.

Read: Erdogan to raise issue of Rohingya at UN

Myanmar officials accuse the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) of burning homes. The group claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks on security posts last week that prompted clashes and a large army counter-offensive.

But Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh say the Myanmar army is conducting a campaign of arson and killings to drive them out.

Media reports said Myanmar security forces have used disproportionate force, displacing thousands of Rohingya villagers and destroying their homes with mortars and machine guns.

The region has seen simmering tension between its Buddhist and Muslim populations since communal violence broke out in 2012.

A crackdown launched last October in Maungdaw, where Rohingya make up the majority, led to a UN report on human rights violations and crimes against humanity by security forces. The UN documented mass gang rape, killings – including infants and young children – brutal beatings, and disappearances.

Read: Why are Muslim nations silent on Rohingya?