Myanmar army replaces general in charge of Rakhine operation

Pope Francis is seen silhouetted at the Vatican on 11 November 2017

Washington, D.C. -based Refugees International called on Tillerson on Tuesday to recognize the Rohingya crisis as ethnic cleansing, a term that the US government has so far refused to use.

HRW said the military's "cover-up" should provide further fuel to calls for sanctions against Myanmar military commanders.

"The Burmese military's absurd effort to absolve itself of mass atrocities underscores why an independent global investigation is needed to establish the facts and identify those responsible", Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Myanmar's government and most of the Buddhist majority say the members of the Muslim minority are "Bengalis" who migrated illegally from Bangladesh and do not acknowledge the Rohingya as a local ethnic group even though they have lived in Myanmar for generations.

Myanmar's government does not allow independent journalists to travel freely to the parts of Rakhine state where most of the latest violence has taken place.

"I don't know the reason why he was transferred", Major General Aye Lwin, deputy director of the psychological warfare and public relation department at the Ministry of Defence, told Reuters.

The military's self-exoneration came as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepared to visit Myanmar today for talks with leaders.

Irish musician and activist Bob Geldof also called Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi "a handmaiden to genocide".

"Sexual violence is being commanded, orchestrated and perpetrated by the armed forces of Myanmar", she said following a three-day tour of the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.

AI, on the other hand, said with more than 600,000 women, men and children having fled Rakhine State in recent months fearing for their lives, there is overwhelming evidence that the military has murdered and raped Rohingya and burned their villages to the ground.

"Myanmar specifically said one, they are in process of attending to Kofi Annan report".

Nor were there any killings or beating of villagers, and the security forces did not carry out any looting or set fire to Rohingya mosques, it said.

Myanmar is refusing entry to a United Nations panel that was tasked with investigating allegations of abuses after a smaller military counteroffensive launched in October 2016.

The migration agency is also concerned about forced and early marriages among the Rohingya, he said.

It also blamed the militants for setting fire to the villages and frightening and coercing people to leave their homes.

Aye Lwin, a member of the government-appointed Advisory Commission on Rakhine State led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan noted that State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has been working on implementing the commission's recommendations and repatriating refugees living in displacement camps in Bangladesh.

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