|Myanmar has rejected an offer by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to open talks aimed at quelling deadly communal violence there, according to the regional bloc’s chief.
Surin Pitsuwan said on Tuesday he proposed setting up tripartite talks between ASEAN, the UN and Myanmar’s government to prevent the violence from having a broader regional impact.
But he said Myanmar turned down the offer to discuss the bloodshed in the western Rakhine state that has led to about 180 deaths since June.
The bloodshed has pitted Buddhists against minority Rohingya Muslims.
“Myanmar believes it is their internal matter, but your internal matter could be ours the next day if you are not careful,” Surin, ASEAN’s secretary-general, said after delivering a speech at a forum in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Fresh fighting in Rakhine this month resulted in another 88 people being killed and added to the thousands of homes torched, with tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims now living in overcrowded camps.
Higher toll feared
Rights groups fear the actual number killed could be much higher.
“Around 100,000 people have been displaced since the fighting started back in June,” Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay reported from Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state.
Most of those displaced lost their homes when they were burned down in what they say is a deliberate attempt by the predominantly Buddhist government to drive them out of the country.
“There were security forces present before the latest violence started,” Muhamed Juhar, a Rohingya Muslim, told Al Jazeera.