Myanmar Says Richardson Asked to Step Down From Advisory Panel

Subash Rudra a Hindu from Myanmar’s Rakhine state crossed into Bangladesh to escape violence and lives at the Hindupara refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar district Jan. 25 2018

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

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.

The resignation of Bill Richardson from the Advisory Board for the Committee for the Implementation of the Recommendations on Rakhine State will not tarnish the panel's credibility, board member Roelof Petrus Meyer said on Thursday.

Richardson said Suu Kyi appeared to want the 10-member global advisory group, one in a string of Rohingya commissions set up by the Myanmar government, to endorse her policies.

He publicly expressed concern that Surakiart was not "genuinely committed" to implementing the recommendations made last August, just as the current crisis erupted, by the Rakhine Advisory Commission led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan.

Officials reacted by accusing Richardson of having his own agenda.

Richardson said Suu Kyi - whom he described as a long-time friend - had developed a "siege mentality" in office, but added that Western governments should continue to engage with Myanmar and that Suu Kyi remained the country's best hope for change.

Duterte again launched another tirade against human rights groups who criticize his war on drugs.

"What we don't want is to have Aung San Suu Kyi just listen to countries, China or Russian Federation".

A war of words has erupted in Myanmar after veteran United States diplomat Bill Richardson resigned from an advisory panel set up to address the Rohingya crisis.

The State Counsellor's office said that during discussions in Myanmar's capital on January 22, "it became evident" that Richardson was not interested in providing advice as one of five worldwide members of a new panel on a crisis that has seen almost 690,000 Rohingya flee a military crackdown to Bangladesh. Almost 690,000 Rohingya have fled a Myanmar army crackdown and crossed over to Bangladesh in recent months.

Though Myanmar says it is ready to start repatriating refugees, many fear returning, and some 300 more families crossed the border in recent days after several houses were burned down in Buthidaung Township, said Chris Lewa from the Arakan Project, a monitoring group that closely tracks Rakhine. He accused Aung San Suu Kyi of lacking the sincerity and moral leadership to tackle the crisis. There is a "power bubble that has been created around her", filled with people who "tell her how great things are", he said.

"She was upset when I said there should be an investigation of the mass-graves issue, that they had to increase their worldwide support for the treatment of the Rohingyas, the bad refugee crisis".

Almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled persecution by Myanmar's military and attacks by Buddhist mobs into Bangladesh. "I just felt that my advice and counsel would not be heeded".

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