RELIGION

US warns crackdown in Myanmar could radicalize Rohingya

  • FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2016, file photo, a Muslim woman wears a mask of Myanmar's Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi during a rally against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims, outside the Embassy of Myanmar in Jakarta, Indonesia. It’s a scene straight out of Myanmar’s dark past: a military offensive waged beyond world view that forces ethnic minority villagers from the smoldering ruins of their homes. The U.S. government, a key sponsor of Myanmar’s democratic transition, says a security crackdown that has displaced tens of thousands Rohingya Muslims and left an unknown number dead risks radicalizing a downtrodden people and stoking religious tensions in Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2016, file photo, a Muslim woman wears a mask of Myanmar's Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi during a rally against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims, outside the Embassy of Myanmar in Jakarta, Indonesia. It’s a scene straight out of Myanmar’s dark past: a military offensive waged beyond world view that forces ethnic minority villagers from the smoldering ruins of their homes. The U.S. government, a key sponsor of Myanmar’s democratic transition, says a security crackdown that has displaced tens of thousands Rohingya Muslims and left an unknown number dead risks radicalizing a downtrodden people and stoking religious tensions in Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2016, file photo, a Muslim woman wears a mask of Myanmar's Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi during a rally against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims, outside the Embassy of Myanmar in Jakarta, Indonesia. It’s a scene straight out of Myanmar’s dark past: a military offensive waged beyond world view that forces ethnic minority villagers from the smoldering ruins of their homes. The U.S. government, a key sponsor of Myanmar’s democratic transition, says a security crackdown that has displaced tens of thousands Rohingya Muslims and left an unknown number dead risks radicalizing a downtrodden people and stoking religious tensions in Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2016, file photo, a Muslim woman wears a mask of Myanmar's Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi during a rally against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims, outside the Embassy of Myanmar in Jakarta, Indonesia. It’s a scene straight out of Myanmar’s dark past: a military offensive waged beyond world view that forces ethnic minority villagers from the smoldering ruins of their homes. The U.S. government, a key sponsor of Myanmar’s democratic transition, says a security crackdown that has displaced tens of thousands Rohingya Muslims and left an unknown number dead risks radicalizing a downtrodden people and stoking religious tensions in Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara, File)  (The Associated Press)

The U.S. government, a key sponsor of Myanmar's democratic transition, says a security crackdown that has displaced tens of thousands Rohingya Muslims and left an unknown number dead risks radicalizing a downtrodden people and stoking religious tensions in Southeast Asia.

The military moved in after armed attacks by unknown assailants on police posts along the border with Bangladesh in October. The attacks were a possible sign that a small number of Rohingya were starting to fight back against persecution by majority Buddhists who view them as illegal immigrants although many have lived in Myanmar for generations.

The top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Russel, is critical of the military's heavy-handed approach and says the escalation of violence risks inciting jihadist extremism in the country also known as Burma.