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Aussies Boost Burma Aid, Canada Suggests Face to Face Rohingya Talks

By Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian
 February 21, 2013
PHUKET: Australian Foreign Minister
Bob Carr has promised an extra $2.5 million in humanitarian assistance in
Burma’s Rakhine state, where the Rohingya tragedy continues to unfold.

While the additional aid will be welcome, people in displaced person’s camps
and ghettos where Rohingya are corralled in segregation say that most
international aid so far has been diverted away from the outcast Muslim
Mr Carr, in
Bangkok today on a visit to the region, offered support to Thailand in
accommodating Rohingya who are fleeing by boat and landing in Thailand on the
way to Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.

The suggestion came a day after a Canadian envoy
proposed face-to-face talks between Burma and Thailand to attempt to resolve
the Rohingya issue. 

Canada’s Ambassador to Thailand, Philip Calvert,
made the suggestion in talks with Thailand’s Interior Minister, Jarapong
Rungsuwan, Thai media reported. 

Khun Jarapong told Mr Calvert that about 1700
Rohingya were being held in Thailand at present, spread all over the country,
with as many as 200 in some centres. 

These Rohingya, apprehended on boats or
”rescued” from the secret Malaysian border camps of people-traffickers in
January, are being held pending a decision on their status and their

In Burma, where authorities tacitly condone the
ethnic cleansing of the unwanted stateless minority, the first attacks against
Muslims outside of Rakhine state have been recorded. 

An angry mob of 300 Buddhists attacked a Muslim
school and several businesses in a suburb near Rangoon earlier this week,
according to local sources.

The Democratic Voice of Burma online said it was
the second attack within days, adding: ”This is the first major episode of
religious violence to spill into the former capital, which also hosts a large
Muslim population.”

Elsewhere in the region, Sri Lankan authorities
were deciding what to do with 31 men and a boy who told rescuers that as food
and water ran low, they pushed the bodies of 98 companions over the side of
their flimsy boat.

The group, believed to be Rohingya, have said
they do not wish to be sent back to Burma. The reason why they took to the sea
is because life has become unbearable there. 

A local Burmese envoy have been quoted as saying
Burma doesn’t want the boatpeople back anyway.