UN: Violence against Rohingyas in Myanmar 'seems like ethnic cleansing'
The UN human rights chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein said Myanmar's security operation against the Rohingya "seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" Zeid has also called on Myanmar to terminate the "cruel military operation" in the Rohingya-majority Rakhine state. The conflict has forced over 300,000 Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh. Meanwhile, India appears to support Myanmar's stance on the conflict.
The Rohingyas are an ethnic Muslim group who constitute around one million of Myanmar's predominantly Buddhist 50 million population. They speak a Bengali dialect, mainly reside in the country's impoverished northern Rakhine state. Myanmar views them as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and doesn't officially recognize them as its citizens, rendering them stateless. The Rohingyas have allegedly been subjected to human rights abuses by Myanmar.
"I call on the government to end its current cruel military operation, with accountability for all violations that have occurred and to reverse the pattern of severe and widespread discrimination against the Rohingya population," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid.
Zeid said the ongoing operation in Rakhine was "clearly disproportionate." He said the full extent of the situation couldn't be fully assessed because Myanmar had restricted entry to human rights investigators. However, he said the UN had received "multiple reports and satellite imagery of security forces and local militia burning Rohingya villages, and consistent accounts of extrajudicial killings, including shooting fleeing civilians".
Myanmar has repeatedly rejected allegations of being responsible for human rights violations against the Rohingya. Instead, it blames Rohingya militants of committing the atrocities, including burning their own villages. A BBC journalist who visited Rakhine on a Myanmar government-guided trip reported that he came across a Muslim village burned by Buddhists, not Rohingyas themselves, contradicting the government's view.
Zeid's statement comes a day after the Rohingya militant group behind an August 25 attack on security forces that sparked the Myanmar crackdown in Rakhine, called for a month-long unilateral ceasefire. The Myanmar government has rejected the ceasefire, saying it doesn't negotiate with "terrorists."
The exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama has urged his fellow Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's de facto leader, to end the violence against the Rohingyas. Suu Kyi is facing widespread criticism over the violence, believed to be perpetrated by Myanmar's majority Buddhist community. The Dalai Lama said Lord Buddha would "definitely" have helped the poor Muslims.