Asia’s ‘best’ and ‘worst’ of 2017

As 2018 begins in Cambodia and around the world, we take a last look at what made headlines and, fitting in this day, lit up Facebook and Twitter in Asia in 2017. From the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother at a Malaysia airport to smog-filled Indian skies and a year-end US presidential visit, the images were all-too-real.

Myanmar’s de factor leader Aung San Suu Kyi and senior general Min Aung Hlaing. Photo: EPA

The Myanmar military, which has been accused of ethnic cleansing against the country's Muslim Rohingya minority, has been invited back as an observer in a major multinational military exercise next year led by the United States and Thailand. Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thailand had invited Myanmar to take part in the annual Cobra Gold exercise, which involves thousands of US and Thai military personnel and participants from other Asian countries.

Vatican defends Pope’s avoidance of word Rohingya on historic Myanmar visit

The Vatican is pushing back against criticism aimed at Pope Francis for not speaking out against Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya Muslims during his historic visit to the southeast Asian country. Foreign diplomats, including US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have called what Myanmar's military is doing to the Rohingya ethnic cleansing, a charge that its leadership and the country's defacto ruler Aung San Suu Kyi deny.

US declares a ethnic cleansinga against Rohingya in Myanmar

The United States declared the ongoing violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar to be "ethnic cleansing" on Wednesday, threatening penalties for military officials engaged in a brutal crackdown that has sent more than 600,000 refugees flooding over the border to Bangladesh. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson blamed Myanmar's security forces and "local vigilantes" for what he called "intolerable suffering" by the Rohingya.

Aung San Suu Kyi blames world conflicts partly on illegal immigration

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi said the world is facing instability and conflict in part because illegal immigration spreads terrorism in a speech Monday that comes as her country is accused of violently pushing out hundreds of thousands of unwanted Rohingya Muslims. Suu Kyi did not directly mention the refugee exodus as she welcomed European and Asian foreign ministers to Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar.

The Latest: Suu Kyi blames conflicts on illegal immigration

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi says the world is facing instability and conflict in part because illegal immigration spreads terrorism in a speech that comes as her country is accused of violently pushing out hundreds of thousands of unwanted Rohingya Muslims. Suu Kyi did not directly mention the refugee exodus in her speech to welcome European and Asian foreign ministers in Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar.

Myanmar sees “bad results” if U.S. imposes sanctions on military

The bill, introduced by members of the U.S. Senate on the eve of Donald Trump's departure on his first trip to Asia since becoming president in January, seeks to reimpose some sanctions lifted last year as Myanmar returned to democracy. The measure would impose targeted sanctions and travel curbs on Myanmar military officials and bar the United States from supplying most assistance to the military until perpetrators of atrocities against the Rohingya in Myanmar's western Rakhine State are held accountable.

Myanmar army probing alleged Rakhine atrocities

Myanmar's military has said it is investigating its operations in violence-wracked Rakhine state, where the United Nations has accused troops of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims. In the last seven weeks, more than half a million Rohingya have fled Rakhine and crossed into neighbouring Bangladesh, shocking the globe with accounts of Myanmar soldiers and Buddhist mobs murdering and raping civilians before torching their villages to the ground.

Suu Kyi Speaks Out About Violence In Rakhine State, Urges Safe Return Of Refugees From Bangladesh

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi broke her silence on Rakhine state violence Thursday, calling for the return of refugees from Bangladesh. Suu Kyi called for national unity in addressing the problem of violence in Rakhine and other regions in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, as well as the safe return of "those who are now in Bangladesh" in a Thursday televised address, according to the Associated Press .

US to give $32M for Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees

The United States will contribute nearly $32 million in humanitarian aid to help Rohingya Muslim refugees, the State Department said Wednesday, in the Trump administration's first major response to the mass exodus from Myanmar. The new money for food, medical care, water, sanitation and shelter comes as the U.S. joins a growing chorus of international condemnation over the minority group's plight.

Internment fears as Myanmar plans new camps for scattered Rohingya

Myanmar plans to open new displacement camps for Rohingya in violence-ridden Rakhine State, sparking fears that members of the Muslim minority not already driven out of the country will instead be forcibly interned. More than 420,000 Rohingya - around two thirds of the ethnic minority's estimated population in northern Rakhine State - have fled to Bangladesh this past month amid a military crackdown prompted by a Rohingya militant group's coordinated attacks on 25 August.

Suu Kyi condemns rights violations

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has condemned all human rights violations, saying anyone responsible for abuses in troubled Rakhine State would face the law, and feels deeply for the suffering of everyone caught up in conflict there. In her first address to the nation since attacks by Rohingya Muslim insurgents on August 25 sparked a military response that has forced more than 410,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, Suu Kyi said on Tuesday that Myanmar did not fear international scrutiny and was committed to a sustainable solution to the conflict.

.com | Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to speak on deadly Rohingya crisis

Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi will address the crisis engulfing Rakhine state next week, in her first speech since scores were killed in violence that has sent nearly 380 000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh and battered her reputation as a defender of the downtrodden. In a press conference, government spokesperson Zaw Htay said Suu Kyi will "speak for national reconciliation and peace" in a televised address on September 19. He said the Nobel laureate, who has been pilloried by rights groups for failing to speak up in the defence of the Rohinyga minority, would skip the United Nations General Assembly next week to tackle the crisis unfurling at home.

The Genocide of the Rohingya

To a certain extent, Aung San Suu Kyi is a false prophet. Glorified by the west for many years, she was made a 'democracy icon' because she opposed the same forces in her country, Burma, at the time that the US-led western coalition isolated Rangoon for its alliance with China.

Rohingya in Korea calls for more pressure on Myanmar

Amid news of Rohingya Muslims risking their lives to escape escalating violence in Myanmar, Ishaque Mohamed, one of only 11 Rohingya people known to be living in South Korea, feels guilty that he is safe and well. His mother and brother, who he left behind in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine, are among thousands on a perilous journey -- either on foot or by boat -- to flee what they call "ethnic cleansing" in the nation.

Little U.S. pressure amid talk of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar

Don't expect the United States to step in and resolve what is increasingly being describing as an ethnic cleansing campaign against Myanmar's downtrodden Rohingya Muslims. Not wanting to undermine the Asian country's democratic hero, the U.S. is cautiously criticizing what looks like a forced exodus of more than a quarter-million Rohingya in the last two weeks as Myanmar's military responds with hammer force to insurgent attacks.

Anger spreads across Asia over Myanmar’s violence against Rohingya Muslims

Jakarta, Indonesia: Hundreds of protesters in Indonesia rallied for the third straight day on Monday as Muslim nations across Asia voiced growing concern over Myanmar's brutal military crackdown against its Rohingya Muslim minority. Outside the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta, the demonstrators, mostly hijab-clad women, demanded that the Indonesian government pressure neighbouring Myanmar to stop the military operation that has sent tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees to camps in Bangladesh for the second time in a year.

Rohingya Muslims flee after more than 2,600 houses were burned down in their Myanmar community

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The conflict between the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Myanmar, and Myanmar officials spilled over last week when more than 2,600 houses were burned down in northwest Myanmar, a Rohingya-majority area, according to Myanmar's government. The government is blaming the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army for the attacks, while Rohingya who are fleeing to Bangladesh claim the Myanmar army carried out a series of killings and arson aimed at forcing them out of the territory.

Rohingya Muslims flee as more than 2,600 houses burned in Myanmar’s Rakhine

More than 2,600 houses have been burned down in Rohingya-majority areas of Myanmar's northwest in the last week, the government said on Saturday, in one of the deadliest bouts of violence involving the Muslim minority in decades. About 58,600 Rohingya have fled into neighboring Bangladesh from Myanmar, according to U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, as aid workers there struggle to cope.

Myanmar army conducts clearance operations; thousands flee clashes

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh: Myanmar security forces intensified operations against Rohingya insurgents on Monday, police and other sources said, following three days of clashes with militants in the worst violence involving Myanmar's Muslim minority in five years. The fighting - triggered by coordinated attacks on Friday by insurgents wielding sticks, knives and crude bombs on 30 police posts and an army base - has killed 104 people and led to the flight of large numbers of Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist civilians from the northern part of Rakhine state.

Gunfire heard near Bangladesh border as Myanmar residents flee

YANGON/COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh: Myanmar's government said it has evacuated at least 4,000 non-Muslim villagers amid ongoing clashes in northwestern Rakhine state, as thousands more Rohingya Muslims sought to flee across the border to Bangladesh on Sunday. The death toll from the violence that erupted on Friday with coordinated attacks by Rohingya insurgents has climbed to 98, including some 80 insurgents and 12 members of the security forces, the government said.

Ethnic Rohingya attempt to flee violence in Burma

In this image made from video, a man lying on a bed with a bandaged hand is cared for in a hospital in Buthidaung township, Myanmar, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh -- Thousands of ethnic Rohingya Muslims were trying to cross from Burma into Bangladesh on Saturday, after an attack by Rohingya militants in western Burma that left 89 people dead in an escalation of communal violence that has plagued the region.

Annan panel urges social justice in Myanmar state

A commission led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended economic development and social justice to counter deadly violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar's Rakhine state, stressing that the government of Aung San Suu Kyi must act quickly and decisively. The Rakhine Commission, established in August 2016 at Suu Kyi's behest, says in a report that the ... A commission led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended economic development and social justice to counter deadly violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar's Rakhine state, stressing that the government of Aung San Suu Kyi must act quickly and decisively.

Commission calls on Myanmar to end Rohingya restrictions

Myanmar must scrap restrictions on movement and citizenship for its Rohingya minority if it wants to avoid fuelling extremism and bring peace to Rakhine state, a commission led by former UN chief Kofi Annan said Thursday. Rights groups hailed the report as a milestone for the persecuted Rohingya community because the government of Aung San Suu Kyi has previously vowed to abide by its findings.

At least six Buddhists killed in rising Rakhine violence

Buddhist nationalists shout slogans during a protest at their camp at entrance of a pagoda on Thursday in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar nationalist Buddhist monks and laymen gathered for a protest against the government led by the country's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi's ruling National League for Democracy party, claiming the government has neglected the national interest and fail to hold the country's most vulnerable ethnic Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine State of the country's west.

Burma: UN probe ‘can only aggravate’ Rakhine tension, envoys told

A Myanmar border guard police officer takes pictures at the remains of a burned house in Tin May village, northern Rakhine state, Burma July 13, 2017. Pic: Reuters leader Aung San Suu Kyi's security adviser told diplomats on Tuesday that a UN mission looking into allegations of rape, torture and killings of Rohingya Muslims would only "aggravate" troubles in the western state of Rakhine.

Hunger rife among Rohingya children after Myanmar crackdown – WFP

YANGON: More than 80,000 young children may need treatment for malnutrition in part of western Myanmar where the army cracked down on stateless Rohingya Muslims last year, the World Food Programme said on Wednesday. Myanmar's security forces launched a counter-offensive in the northern part of Rakhine state after attacks by Rohingya insurgents that killed nine border police in October.

Myanmar commanders should be punished for rape of Rohingya: Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch on Monday called for Myanmar to punish army and police commanders if they allowed troops to rape and sexually assault women and girls of the Rohingya Muslim minority. The New York-based campaign group said it had documented rape, gang rape and other sexual violence against girls as young as 13 in interviews with some of the 69,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh since Myanmar security forces responded to attacks on border posts four months ago.

Malaysia warns Burma of looming threats from IS militants

Rohingya from Burma, watch a television program about them being played on a mobile phone inside a tea stall. Pic: AP BURMA faces a growing danger of attacks by foreign supporters of Islamic State recruited from Southeast Asian networks in support of persecuted Muslim Rohingyas, n authorities have detained a suspected IS follower planning to head to Burma to carry out attacks, the head of the last month.

Critics round on Myanmar’s Suu Kyi over Rohingya crisis

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday stood accused of failing to protect Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims from what rights groups say is a systematic campaign of abuse by the army. The democracy icon, garlanded by the international community as a moral force during Myanmar's junta years, has remained near-silent despite mounting evidence of army abuses in Rakhine State.

End to US sanctions a boon Myanmar economy, but woes remain

KFC's grinning Colonel Sanders and his goatee are among the few prominent signs of U.S. brands or business in Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon. That will likely change after President Barack Obama ended most remaining U.S. sanctions against this fledgling democracy on Oct. 7. But much hinges on how the government led by former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi revamps the country's outdated laws and other policies.

Myanmar blames Islamist group for attacks in Rakhine state

Myanmar's government yesterday said that a group inspired by Islamist militants was behind attacks on police border posts in its ethnically riven northwest, as officials said they feared a new insurgency by members of the Rohingya Muslim minority. The sudden escalation of violence in Rakhine state poses a serious challenge to the six-month-old government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who was swept to power in an election last year but has faced criticism abroad for failing to tackle rights abuses against the Rohingya and other Muslims.

Obama announces lifting of U.S. sanctions on Myanmar

President Barack Obama formally announced the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Myanmar on Friday by terminating an emergency order that deemed the policies of the former military government a threat to U.S. national security. "I have determined that the situation that gave rise to the national emergency ... has been significantly altered by Burma's substantial advances to promote democracy, including historic elections in November 2015," Obama said in a letter to the U.S. House and Senate speakers.

Suu Kyi’s pragmatism wins with Obama

After two decades of economic sanctions on Myanmar, the US has decided to lift them. The announcement was made following a meeting between President Barack Obama and Myanmar's State Counsellor-cum-Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi at the White House on Sept 14. For many in Myanmar and the US, the lifting of economic sanctions is a win-win for both the Obama and Suu Kyi administrations.

Sanctions relief on agenda as Myanmar’s Suu Kyi meets Obama

Aung San Suu Kyi's latest visit to Washington signals her transformation from long-imprisoned heroine of Myanmar's democracy struggle to a national leader focused on economic growth. President Barack Obama will meet with Suu Kyi at the White House on Wednesday to discuss rolling back more of the sanctions that were applied when the nation was under military rule.

Suu Kyi to meet Obama in Washington for first time as Myanmar leader

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Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi meets with President Barack Obama on Wednesday in her first visit to the United States since her party won a sweeping victory in last year's election, capping a decades-long journey from political prisoner to national leader. With Suu Kyi no longer an opposition figure, the United States is weighing a further easing of sanctions against Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, as Obama looks to normalize relations with a country Washington shunned when it was ruled by a military junta.

Southeast Asian summit opens, overshadowed by Duterte flap

A summit of Southeast Asian leaders to discuss issues ranging from terrorism to South China Sea tensions opened Tuesday, overshadowed by the Philippine president's intemperate comments in his debut appearance at the annual meeting. The insult was made more egregious because of who the target was - President Barack Obama.

Suu Kyi oversees panel on plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and former U.N. chief Kofi Annan on Monday oversaw the first meeting of a panel tasked with bringing peace to a region where violence between Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims has cast a pall over the country's democratic transition. The plight of the Rohingya has raised questions about Suu Kyi's commitment to human rights and represents a politically sensitive issue for her National League for Democracy, which won a landslide election victory last year.

Despite her many roles, Hillary Clinton still hard to define

In this June 22, 1994 file photo, President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton wait to address a group of young Democratic supporters known as the Saxophone Club in Washington. FILE - In this June 22, 1994 file photo, President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton wait to address a group of young Democratic supporters known as the Saxophone Club in Washington.