US Embassy Suspends Official Travel to Rakhine Townships

By The Irrawaddy 23 November 2017

YANGON— A day after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson categorized Myanmar’s military operation in Rakhine state as “ethnic cleansing”, the United States temporarily suspended all official U.S. government travel to several parts of the state.

In a security message to U.S. citizens issued by the U.S embassy in Yangon on Thursday, it said the announcement of the determination that the situation in Rakhine State constitutes ethnic cleansing “may lead to demonstrations in Rangoon (Yangon) or elsewhere”.

“As a prudent measure, the embassy is temporarily suspending all official U.S. government travel to the Rakhine townships of Sittwe, Rathedaung, Buthidaung, and Maungdaw from Nov. 23-Dec. 4,” it stated.

The embassy also advised U.S. citizens to temporarily avoid travel to those townships during the period [Nov.23-Dec.4] and reminded them to avoid demonstrations.

Tillerson said in a statement on Wednesday that “the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,” using a term he avoided when visiting Myanmar last week.

He added that the United States would pursue accountability through U.S. law, including possible targeted sanctions against those responsible for the alleged abuses, which have driven hundreds of thousands of Rohingya into Bangladesh.