Myanmar's 'Ethnic Cleansing' of Rohingya Continues, Says UNHRC Official


Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled military operations to Bangladesh, bringing with them tales of killings, rape, and arson by Myanmar security forces.

Separately, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said it was concerned about people living just inside Myanmar at its border with Bangladesh.

The Myanmar military has denied claims of abuses, but in January recognised the extrajudicial killings of Rohingya in September 2017.

The UN assistant secretary general for human rights, Andrew Gilmour, said on Tuesday that ethnic cleansing was continuing in Myanmar. Some 7,00,000 people have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since August, BBC reported.

There are credible accounts of widespread human rights abuses, including rape, the torching of homes and killings, carried out against the Rohingya, leading to accusations that Myanmar is guilty of "ethnic cleansing", or even genocide.

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While the majority of those refugees fled Myanmar a year ago, Rohingya are still streaming across the border by the hundreds every week.

The Tatmadaw army of Burma stands accused of mass killings, rape and arson in Muslim villages as part of "clearing operations" in response to an attack by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on military and police outposts on Aug 25 previous year.

Gilmour also pointed out that the Bangladeshi and global humanitarian response to the Rohingya crisis has been very impressive but that the rainy season threatens to have a devastating effect on refugee camps.

The UN expert also questioned how the Myanmar government could say that it was ready for the return of the Rohingya refugees while atrocities committed against them continued, and argued that "safe, dignified and sustainable returns are of course impossible under current conditions".

"We don't want India to become the refugee capital of the world", he said, adding that efforts were on at the diplomatic level to resolve the crisis.

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But the United Nations, rights groups and many Western powers have accused the army of using those attacks as a pretext to expel a minority which has faced brutal discrimination for decades.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has estimated that at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in the first month of the crackdown alone.

They recounted incidents where family members were taken away by Myanmar's security forces and later found dead. "We've asked Myanmar for humanitarian access in order to help people like them and others affected by the recent violence".

Myanmar's civilian government, led by former democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, lacks control over the military but has been castigated by rights groups for failing to speak out in defence of the Rohingya.

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