UN Official: Keep Pressure on Myanmar to Halt Rohingya Atrocities

UNITED NATIONS A senior U.N. human rights official is urging the international community to maintain pressure on Myanmar’s government to halt atrocities against Rohingya Muslims and facilitate their return home.

“Clearly, there has to be sustained international pressure on the government of Myanmar to prevent its security forces from carrying out the actions that they are carrying out,” Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour told VOA on Thursday. “And to enable, to genuinely, not just say it, but to genuinely permit the conditions for the refugees to return.”

Gilmour returned this week from a four-day visit to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where nearly a million Rohingya Muslim refugees are living in what has become the world’s largest refugee camp.

Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since August 25, after attacks by Rohingya militants on state security forces led to military reprisals that the United Nations says were executed in a well-organized, systematic and coordinated manner and are a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing.

Survivors and witnesses have given harrowing accounts of security forces killing and raping Rohingya while looting and burning their villages in northern Rakhine state. The Rohingya are one of many ethnic minorities in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. They are considered to be economic migrants from Bangladesh and have been denied citizenship in Myanmar, even though most can show that their families have been in the country for generations.

Gilmour said the Rohingya who have not left Rakhine are now being deprived of food.

“It’s a policy of forced starvation,” he said. “And it is a crime against humanity.”

He said aid agencies have had no access for months to Rakhine. Farmers have had their fields confiscated by the authorities, and their animals have been stolen or killed. In other cases, Rohingya are prevented from leaving their villages � sometimes even their homes � to prevent them from working so they can buy food. Their dire circumstances are forcing many who remained after August to flee now.

The United Nations has had little success getting into Rakhine.

Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since August 25, after attacks by Rohingya militants on state security forces led to military reprisals that the United Nations says were executed in a well-organized, systematic and coordinated manner and are a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing.

Survivors and witnesses have given harrowing accounts of security forces killing and raping Rohingya while looting and burning their villages in northern Rakhine state. The Rohingya are one of many ethnic minorities in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. They are considered to be economic migrants from Bangladesh and have been denied citizenship in Myanmar, even though most can show that their families have been in the country for generations.

Gilmour said the Rohingya who have not left Rakhine are now being deprived of food.

“It’s a policy of forced starvation,” he said. “And it is a crime against humanity.”

He said aid agencies have had no access for months to Rakhine. Farmers have had their fields confiscated by the authorities, and their animals have been stolen or killed. In other cases, Rohingya are prevented from leaving their villages � sometimes even their homes � to prevent them from working so they can buy food. Their dire circumstances are forcing many who remained after August to flee now.

The United Nations has had little success getting into Rakhine.

Source: Voice of America