UNITED NATIONS, — A Myanmar envoy Monday denied ethnic cleansing in the country’s Rakhine State, saying Rohingya rebels conscripted Muslim men and intimidated women and children to flee into neighboring Bangladesh to call attention to their cause, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

“Let me be clear there is no ethnic cleansing; there is no genocide,” said Hau Do Suan, the Myanmar ambassador to the United Nations, speaking at the end of the annual UN General Assembly general debate, exercising his right of reply “to the irresponsible remarks made about my country.”

“It is deeply regrettable that unsubstantiated allegations have been repeated in this chamber likening the situation in Rakhine State to ethnic cleansing,” he said. “Nothing is further from the truth.”

“Terms such as atrocities, ethnic cleansing and genocide must not be used lightly,” Suan said, speaking from his delegation’s usual seat on the floor of the General Assembly, as required under reply rules. “The use of such terms should be considered only after very solid evidence.”

Calling them “very serious charges that require rigorous review and require judicial determination,” he said, “They should not be bandied about and used lightly.”

Stephane Dujarric, chief UN spokesman, said earlier in the day that some 436,000 refugees from northern Rakhine, mostly women and children, have arrived in Bangladesh.

For weeks there have been reports the ethnic Muslim minority have been chased out of the overwhelmingly Buddhist nation of Myanmar to Bangladesh. Rohingyas have long complained of discrimination.

“I would like to urge these delegations and the international community as well to see the situation in northern Rakhine objectively and in an unbiased manner,” the ambassador said.

“The leaders of Myanmar…will not espouse such policies. We will do everything to prevent ethnic cleansing and genocide. The issue of Rakhine state is extremely complex.”

The rebel Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) claimed responsibility for the deadly Aug 25 attacks on several police posts in Rakhine, touching off the most recent wave of violence and surge of refugees.

“The government of Myanmar has declared ARSA a terrorist group,” the ambassador said, adding that the “highest Islamic religious organisation in Myanmar” also condemned the ARSA attacks.

“These vicious attacks have caused loss of life and property and displacement of people,” he said “Those who have had to abandon their hearth and home are many, not just in the state of Rakhine.”