The UN has said that Myanmar’s security forces are ‘very likely’ to have committed ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the country’s Rohingya Muslim population.
The UN report cites eyewitness testimony of:
“the killing of babies, toddlers, children, women and the elderly; opening fire at people fleeing; burning of entire villages; massive detention; massive and systematic rape and sexual violence and the deliberate destruction of food and sources of food”.
UNGeneva</a> Stop killing them for being muslim <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rohingya?src=hash">#Rohingya</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UN?src=hash">#UN</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DontForgetRohingya?src=hash">#DontForgetRohingya</a> <a href="https://t.co/1YXqCO4ckD">pic.twitter.com/1YXqCO4ckD</a></p>— Voice of Rohingya (VoiceRohingya) February 1, 2017
One woman told investigators that her eight-month-old baby’s throat was slit.
The UN took testimony from 220 Rohingya victims and witnesses who fled the “lockdown area” in Rakhine to neighbouring Bangladesh. Of those interviewed almost half reported the murder or disappearance of a family member and 101 women said they had been raped or subjected to sexual violence.
The Myanmar government, led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi denies the allegations of human rights abuses and has characterised their actions as a lawful counterinsurgency campaign. They accuse the Rohingya of fabricating stories and being in league with terrorists.
An estimated 69,000 Rohingya have fled from Maungdaw in Rakhine to neighbouring Bangladesh since the Myanmar military operation was launched on 9th October 2016.
Bangladesh aims to relocate the Rohingya to Thengar Char island in the Bay of Bengal. A Bangladeshi minister said that this was ‘temporary’ and that Myanmar would ultimately have to take the Rohingya back. Critics have called the island ‘uninhabitable’.
As the administrator of a neighbouring island village, Mohammad Mizanur Rahman made clear, the Rohingya are not welcome there either. He told reporters: “ We are fearful that the nature of the Rohingya people is not good — they have a record of involvement in drugs and smuggling, so if they are moved here, together with the pirates who rob, we will be in big trouble.”
The Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has reportedly shipped ‘tonnes of food and emergency supplies’ to support the Rohingya. Razak has called on the Myanmar government to stop the attacks although they deny any wrongdoing.