ARSA: Myanmar playing politics with global community regarding Rohingya repatriation

Myanmar terminates Bill Richardson's participation in advisory board on Rakhine state

United States diplomat Bill Richardson was accused of a "personal attack" on Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi after an excoriating take down of the former darling of the global rights community as he resigned from a panel on the Rohingya crisis.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, leave after attending the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India.

Richardson, a former Clinton administration cabinet member, quit as the 10-member advisory board was making its first visit to western Rakhine State, from which almost 700,000 Rohingyahave fled in recent months.

Urging understanding instead of blame, Zaw Htay said the issue of the arrests was beyond Richardson's mandate and he should not have brought it up at his meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Until this week, Richardson was on a board tasked with implementing the recommendations of a commission helmed by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

"It is with great disappointment that I announce my resignation from the Advisory Board on Rakhine State", a statement released by Bill Richardson's office said after three days of talks in Myanmar.

Two years ago, Myanmar celebrated a moment many thought would never come as democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi took her seat at the head of the. It had made recommendations for more press freedom, he said.

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A statement on Thursday from the nine remaining members of the advisory board said they met this week "with open minds" and rejected Richardson's criticism that he feared the panel would be used as "a cheerleading squad".

Richardson said he had informed the USA ambassador in Yangon and the State Department of his intention to resign but had not sought their guidance.

The Rohingya issue is one of the most controversial in Myanmar and has plagued the country, also known as Burma, for decades.

"It is critical that their rights and needs in terms of protection and aid are front and center in any agreement to return families to Myanmar". "Suu Kyi and her moral leadership could have gone a long way to unpack and unravel that ... instead (she's) actually perpetrated numerous stereotypes and anti-Muslim and anti-Rohingya discrimination".

Suu Kyi's government said on Friday it did not want discuss the details of the exchange between Suu Kyi and Richardson any further.

The vast Kutupalong camp shelters numerous 688,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled across the border from Myanmar's Rakhine State following an outbreak of violence there in late August past year.

Organized by the government, the advisory board visited Rakhine state on Wednesday, where they were shown the preparation work on acceptance of refugees returning from Bangladesh. "I just felt that my advice and counsel would not be heeded".

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