UN Human Rights chief warns that Rohingyas in Myanmar face ethnic cleansing
Top U.N. human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, accused Myanmar of a “brutal” campaign against Rohingya Muslims,denouncing illegal killings, rape and other human atrocities. The Dalai Lama also joined other international leaders, including the White House, in condemning the violence in Myanmar, a Buddhist majority country.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Monday said Myanmar's treatment of its Rohingya ethnic minority seemed to be a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.
Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein's damning report on the crisis in Myanmar came as he addressed the 36th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
"Because Myanmar has refused access to human rights investigators the current situation cannot yet be fully assessed, but the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing," warned the Human Rights chief.
Zeid denounced the security operation in Myanmar's western Rakhine State, which began on Aug. 25 in response to a string of Rohingya militant attacks on police posts, as disproportionate and in flagrant violation of international law.
"We have 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," Zeid said.
According to the latest UN estimates, around 300,000 members of the predominantly Muslim minority have fled to Bangladesh to seek refuge from the violence amid eyewitness accounts that entire villages were being razed to the ground.
Amnesty International denounced over the weekend that anti-personnel the Burmese armed forces had planted landmines along the Bangladeshi border to target Rohingyas attempting to flee.
Zeid encouraged the Bangladeshi government to maintain its policy of accepting the Rohingya refugees and urged the international community to support Bangladesh to that end.
The Jordanian diplomat also called on the Myanmar government to stop claiming that Rohingyas were burning their own homes and villages and warned that such false reports were damaging the international image of the nation's government which, according to Zeid, had until recently benefited "from immense good will."
He urged Myanmar officials to end the campaign against the Rohingya people and to grant UN human rights observers full access to the country.
Zeid denounced that Myanmar had said it would allow refugees to return if they could offer "proof of nationality" and recalled that, since 1962, Burmese governments have stripped Rohingya populations of their civil rights, including citizenship rights.
"This measure resembles a cynical ploy to forcibly transfer large numbers of people without possibility of return," he said.