Singapore, Nov 14 (AP/UNB) — Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi has rebuffed criticism over her government's treatment of its ethnic Rohingya Muslims.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told Suu Kyi on Wednesday that the violence, which led more than 700,000 of the country's Rohingya minority to flee for Bangladesh since August 2017, was "without excuse."
Pence also said Myanmar's arrests and convictions of two Reuters journalists was "deeply troubling" to millions of Americans.
Pence and Suu Kyi met on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore. Pence said the meeting was at Suu Kyi's request.
Suu Kyi said only Myanmar was in a position to explain what happened and how it saw things, just as Americans could best understand what is happening there.
Singapore, Nov 14 (AP/UNB) — Southeast Asian leaders and China are touting progress in keeping peace in the contentious South China Sea as they work toward a "code of conduct" to govern navigation routes and other activities in the region.
Speaking at the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang cited the region's management of territorial disputes as an example and said the trend was toward greater stability.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted at "all cost" to set the rules governing behavior in those seas to avoid trouble.
Duterte told reporters that relations between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors were "excellent" and that friction was between Western nations and China. He said a code of conduct was needed to avoid dangerous miscalculations.
Singapore, Nov 14 (AP/UNB) — Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed sharply criticized Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday for her handling of an ethnic crisis that led to mass killings and the exodus of more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from her country.
Mahathir said Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi was "trying to defend the indefensible" in justifying violence by Myanmar security forces against Rohingya in Rakhine state.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since August 2017.
"They are actually oppressing these people to the point of, well, killing them, mass killing, and burial in graves dug by the victims and that kind of thing. That may be relevant in ancient times, but in modern days, we don't do that kind of thing," said Mahathir, a 93-year-old political veteran whose own past treatment of dissidents at times drew opprobrium.
Asked about the issue at a news conference on the sidelines of a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore, Mahathir said that as a former political prisoner, Suu Kyi should understand suffering.
It is unusual for leaders in the 10-nation group to publicly criticize each other.
Suu Kyi became an icon for democracy after spending about 15 years under house arrest for opposing Myanmar's earlier military dictatorship. She and her Buddhist-majority government have been widely criticized for the way they have treated the Muslim Rohingya.
In Geneva, the U.N. human rights chief said Tuesday that Bangladesh should halt plans to repatriate over 2,200 of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, saying such a move would endanger their lives.
Michelle Bachelet's comments are among the strongest yet from a top United Nations official about the planned repatriation this week of some Rohingya.
Bachelet's office said it continues to receive reports of rights violations in Rakhine state, "which include allegations of killings, disappearances and arbitrary arrests." It said some 130,000 people, including many Rohingya, remain internally displaced in central Rakhine.
On Monday, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR advised against the returns, saying safety should be assessed first. But it did not call for a halt to the repatriation plans.
Amnesty International announced on Monday that it has withdrawn its highest honor from Suu Kyi because of her "shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for."
"Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defense of human rights. Amnesty International cannot justify your continued status as a recipient of the Ambassador of Conscience award and so with great sadness we are hereby withdrawing it from you," it said in a letter to Suu Kyi.
Bangkok, Nov 14 (AP/UNB) — The death of a 13-year-old boy who was knocked out during a kickboxing match in Thailand has sparked debate over whether to ban matches involving children.
The death of Anucha Tasako came after a Muay Thai — Thai boxing — match Saturday in the Bangkok suburb of Samut Prakarn. The Facebook page Muaythai Krobwongjorn, which covers the sport, said he died from a brain hemorrhage. Protective gear is normally not worn in the sport, and video circulated on social media said to be of the fight shows Anucha not wearing any.
Child boxing is widespread in Thailand, especially in rural areas, where it offers a way for children to help provide for their families and a path to lift them out of poverty, according to its advocates. Opponents say the sport is dangerous, citing studies such as one published last month by Thailand's Mahidol University saying that allowing children under 15 to box could result in various types of brain damage.
Thai lawmakers are considering legislation proposed last month banning children under 12 from competitive boxing. The legislation has been forwarded to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, which has already drafted a revised version, said Gen. Aduldej Intapong, a member of the National Legislative Assembly.
Kickboxing is one of the most popular sports in Thailand and its boosters oppose regulating it.
"This would have a major impact on the industry," Sukrit Parekrithawet, a lawyer who represents several boxing training camps, said of the proposed legislation. "Those who drafted the law do not know anything about the sport of Thai boxing, and this would make Muay Thai become extinct."
"If you don't allow younger players to learn their way up, how can they be strong and experienced enough to fight?" he said. "We call it 'boxing bones.' You need to have boxing bones built from a very young age."
Sukrit said the death of the 13-year-old, who fought under the name Petchmongkol S. Wilaitong, was a one-off incident and the result of a poorly organized event.
"This has never happened before and it's unprecedented," he said. "There are several factors involved which have nothing to do with age. The referee wasn't quick enough to stop the fight and the venue didn't have a doctor on standby, which shouldn't happen."
Public television station ThaiPBS reported that Anucha had fought more than 170 matches since he began boxing at the age of 8, and was currently fighting in the under 41 kilogram (under 90 pound) weight division. It said he was raised by his uncle, who is a boxing trainer, after his parents separated.
The uncle, Damrong Tasako, told Thai PBS that Anucha's death was an accident but he would like to see regulations for children under 15 to wear protective gear to soften blows to the head and body.
Ankara, Nov 13 (AP/UNB) — Turkey's president says his country is "patiently" waiting for Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman to shed light on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last month.
Speaking to journalists on his return from World War I commemorations in Paris, Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said audio recordings of the killing that Turkey shared with officials from Saudi Arabia and other nations were so "atrocious" that a Saudi intelligence official who heard them speculated that the killer may have been on heroin.
Erdogan said the crown prince told Turkish envoys that he would shed light on the incident and do what was "necessary."
"We are waiting patiently," he said.
His comments were printed in pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper and other media on Tuesday.