Myanmar's 'Ethnic Cleansing' of Rohingya Continues, UN Rights Official Says

Myanmar's 'Ethnic Cleansing' of Rohingya Continues, UN Rights Official Says

The United Nations human rights chief accused on Wednesday Myanmar authorities of deliberately attempting to "destroy evidence of potential worldwide crimes, including possible crimes against humanity".

"This Council is aware that my office has strong suspicions that acts of genocide may have taken place in Rakhine State since August", he said, noting that his office said on Tuesday that it believes ethnic cleansing is still underway in Rakhine.

The "frenzied" scale of unspeakable violence against the minority Muslim Rohingya community in Myanmar has shifted to a "lower intensity campaign of terror and forced starvation", seemingly meant to drive the remaining Rohingyas from their homeland, a senior United Nations human rights official has warned.

The Myanmar military has denied claims of abuses, but in January recognised the extrajudicial killings of Rohingya in September 2017.

Gilmour also pointed out that the Bangladeshi and worldwide humanitarian response to the Rohingya crisis has been very impressive but that the rainy season threatens to have a devastating effect on refugee camps.

Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled military operations to Bangladesh, bringing with them tales of killings, rape, and arson by Myanmar security forces.

The post addressed a letter last month from British lawmakers to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson calling for Myanmar to be referred to the International Criminal Court - which it said was based on "one-sided accusations" and ignored attacks on civilians by the ARSA - and a European Union decision to prepare sanctions targeted at Myanmar generals.

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"The conversation now must focus on stopping the violence in Rakhine state, ensuring accountability for the perpetrators, and the need for Myanmar to create conditions for return", said Gilmour.

There was no immediate comment by the Myanmar government. A number of refugees reportedly told Gilmour that Rohingya attempting to leave their homes or villages "are taken away and never return".

Bangladesh insists the repatriation process will go ahead, last month submitting to Myanmar the names of 8,000 refugees expected to return to Rakhine, where the Muslim minority has been persecuted for generations.

But the plan has courted controversy from the outset.

"Safe, dignified and sustainable returns are of course impossible under current conditions", Gilmour said.

But the United Nations, rights groups and many Western powers have accused the army of using those attacks as a pretext to expel a minority which has faced brutal discrimination for decades.

"They (Myanmar) are absolute evil", he added.

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