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War crimes have been committed against Rohingyas in Rakhine, US lawmakers tell PM Hasina

November 19, 2017

A group of US lawmakers, who have visited refugee camps in Bangladesh, says Myanmar has committed ‘war crimes’ against the Rohingya minority group -- the atrocities that the Southeast Asian nation’s army denies.

The US delegation led by Senator Jeff Merkley made the remarks on Sunday during their meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a day after speaking with Rohingyas who fled to Cox’s Bazar from Myanmar.

The delegation included Senator Richard Durbin, Congresswomen Betty McCollum and Jan Schakowsky, Congressman David Cicilline, US Ambassador Marica Bernicat and the US Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Joel Reifman.

The delegation arrived in Dhaka on Friday and went to Cox’s Bazar the next day to visit the refugees at the Balukhali camp.

On Sunday, they shared their experience with Hasina, said the PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim.

“The delegation thinks what happened there are war crimes. They have expressed their concerns over the war crimes and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar,” he told the media after the meeting.

Karim said the US delegation believes that what happened in Rakhine was clearly a violation of human rights.

“The delegates said they want the refugees to be allowed to return to their home land.”

The prime minister told the US lawmakers that Bangladesh provided shelter to the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds.

“Myanmar is one of our closest neighbours. We want them to take back their citizens,” Karim quoted Hasina as saying.

Emphasising the implementation of the Kofi Annan-led commission’s recommendations, Hasina focused on rehabilitating the Rohingyas in Rakhine and providing them with security.

Following the meeting with US lawmakers, the Countess of Wessex Sophie called on the prime minister.

The wife of British Queen Elizabeth’s youngest son Prince Edward, Sophie urged Hasina to continue with the diplomatic efforts for the safe return of Rohingyas.

“The Countess of Wessex said the exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar has to stop,” said Karim.

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