UN report points to ethnic cleansing of Rohingya by Myanmar security forces

World Today

Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said unity is the key to resolving the Rohingya problem. Some half-million Rohingyas have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since late August.

In a nationwide address, the State Counselor said Myanmar and Bangladesh are negotiating the return of the refugees, and she pledged humanitarian aid.

Her speech comes on the heels of a new U.N. report which describes a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. CGTN’s Liling Tan reports.

The report states that credible information points to how Myanmar security forces purposely destroyed Rohginya property, how they scorched homes and entire villages in northern Rakhine State, not only to drive out the population but also to prevent them from returning home.

It also noted that the destruction indicates an effort by security forces to erase landmarks and diminish Rohingya history, culture and knowledge. The report adds weight to warnings from top U.N. officials and world leaders that ethnic cleansing was taking place.

The U.N. report also notes the findings contradict the government’s assertion the casualties were a result of collateral damage from the government’s response to the August 25th attack on its military and police outposts by Rohingya militants.

Witnesses described security forces surrounding entire villages, sometimes accompanied by armed Rakhine Buddhists, firing indiscriminately at villagers, setting houses on fire and ordering Rohingyas to abandon their homes.

The investigation was conducted by a team of three experts from the U.N. refugee agency, who were there last month. It is based on 65 interviews with refugees who fled to Cox’s Bazar, many of whom gave witness accounts of targeted killings, rape and torture.

Witness quotes describe children being beaten and tortured, of abducted girls returning raped and bleeding, how a knife was used during a gang rape of a female, and how a woman’s stomach was slit open after she was raped, and her unborn infant killed.

The witness accounts contained in this report are some of the most gruesome I have seen since covering this latest Rohingya crisis. As of October 8, the U.N. estimates that nearly 520,000 people have fled the violence in Rakhine state to Bangladesh.