YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar authorities took foreign diplomats and United Nations representatives on a tour Monday of conflict-torn northern Rakhine state, where a security crackdown has led to an exodus of more than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims.
Three groups of diplomats were taken to three different areas Monday, said Ye Htut, district administrator of Maungdaw in Rakhine. He did not provide details on the diplomats’ nationalities.
Myanmar has come under international criticism for barring aid groups, journalists and other outsiders from independently travelling to the region to see the situation there. A previous guided visit for diplomats scheduled for last week was abruptly cancelled.
More than half a million Rohingya refugees have fled from the region to Bangladesh in just over a month, the largest refugee crisis to hit Asia in decades. The current exodus is in addition to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled prior violence in Myanmar, where Rohingya have faced decades of persecution and discrimination in the Buddhist-majority nation.
The latest violence began when a Rohingya insurgent group launched deadly attacks on security posts Aug. 25, prompting Myanmar’s military to launch “clearance operations” to root out the rebels. Those fleeing have described indiscriminate attacks by security forces and Buddhist mobs. The government has blamed the Rohingya, saying they set fire to their own homes, but the U.N. and others accuse it of ethnic cleansing.
Local officials in Rakhine said Monday’s tour includes meetings with relatives of victims allegedly killed by militants during the violence against Hindu, Mro and Daignets minority communities in Maungdaw township. On Monday morning, the diplomats were taken to Anaut Pyin village of Rathedaung township, a community of Rohingya Muslims who have not fled, said local police officer Moe Zaw.