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Turkey's Erdogan presses world leaders to help Myanmar's Rohingya

FILE PHOTO - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a ceremony marking the 95th anniversary of Victory Day at the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Ankara, Turkey August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday he was pressing world leaders to do more to help Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, who face what he has described as genocide.

Nearly 400 people have been killed in northwest Myanmar over the past week in insurgent attacks on security posts and an army crackdown. Aid agencies estimate that 73,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh from Myanmar since violence erupted.

“You watched the situation that Myanmar and Muslims are in,” Erdogan said in Istanbul, where he was attending the funeral of a Turkish soldier. “You saw how villages have been burnt... Humanity remained silent to the massacre in Myanmar”.

He said Turkey would raise the issue at the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month. As current head of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation, Erdogan had discussed the violence with around 20 world leaders.

“There are some leaders we can achieve results with and some that we cannot. Not everyone has the same sensitivity,” he said. “We will do our duty,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey was continuing to deliver aid to the region.

Myanmar has urged Muslims in the northwest to cooperate in the search for insurgents, whose coordinated attacks on security posts and an army crackdown have led to one of the deadliest bouts of violence to engulf the Rohingya community in decades.

The treatment of Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s roughly 1.1 million Muslim Rohingya is the biggest challenge facing leader Aung San Suu Kyi, accused by Western critics of not speaking out for a religious minority that has long complained of persecution.

Erdogan said on Friday that the death of hundreds of Rohingya in Myanmar over the past week constituted a genocide aimed at Muslim communities in the region.

Hundreds more refugees on Sunday walked through rice paddies from the Naf river separating the two countries into Bangladesh, straining scarce resources of aid groups and local communities already helping tens of thousands.

Reporting by Dirimcan Barut; Editing by Dominic Evans