Global rights organisation Amnesty International has alleged that Myanmar’s military is trying to hide the crimes it committed against the Rohingya minority people in northern Rakhine state.
“Once again, Myanmar’s military is trying to sweep serious violations against the Rohingyas under the carpet,” said Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific James Gomez on Monday.
Amnesty International came up with the allegation hours after the Myanmar’s military released the ‘findings’ of its internal investigation into violence in Rakhine since August 25.
According UN agencies, Myanmar’s army personnel killed any Rohingya people, burned their villages, raped women and girls, and stole possessions. They described the atrocities as crimes against humanity.
In the investigation report, the army denied all the allegations.
Gomez said there is overwhelming evidence that the military has murdered and raped Rohingyas and burned their villages to the ground.
“After recording countless stories of horror and using satellite analysis to track the growing devastation, we can only reach one conclusion: these attacks amount to crimes against humanity,” said the official.
Mentioning that Myanmar military has made clear it has no intention of ensuring accountability, Gomez said it is now up to the international community to step up to ensure these appalling abuses do not go unpunished.
“The full extent of the violations against the Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities will not be known until the UN Fact-Finding Mission and other independent observers are given unfettered access to Myanmar, and in particular Rakhine State,” he said.
Over 6 lakh Rohingya Muslim have fled mainly-Buddhist Myanmar to Bangladesh since the eruption of the fresh round of violence on Aug 25.
AFP reports: Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi faced rising global pressure on Tuesday to solve the crisis for her nation’s displaced Rohingya Muslim minority, meeting the UN chief and America’s top diplomat in the Philippines.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the Nobel laureate that hundreds of thousands of displaced Muslims who had fled to Bangladesh should be allowed to return to their homes in Myanmar.
“The Secretary-General highlighted that strengthened efforts to ensure humanitarian access, safe, dignified, voluntary and sustained returns, as well as true reconciliation between communities, would be essential,” a UN statement said, summarising comments to Suu Kyi.
Guterres’ comments came hours before Suu Kyi sat down with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Manila.
Washington has been cautious in its statements on the situation in Rakhine, and has avoided outright criticism of Suu Kyi. Supporters say she must navigate a path between outrage abroad and popular feeling in a majority Buddhist country where most people believe the Rohingya are interlopers. At a photo opportunity at the top of her meeting with Tillerson, Suu Kyi ignored a journalist who asked if the Rohingya were citizens of Myanmar.
At a later appearance after the meeting, Tillerson—who is headed to Myanmar on Wednesday—was asked by reporters if he “had a message for Burmese leaders”.
He apparently ignored the question, replying only: “Thank you”, according to a pool report of the encounter.
Canada’s Justin Trudeau said he had spoken to Myanmar’s de facto leader.
“I had an extended conversation with... Aung San Suu Kyi, about the plight of the Muslim refugees in Rakhine state,” he told a press conference. “This is of tremendous concern to Canada and many, many other countries around the world.
“We are always looking at... how we can help, how we can move forward in a way that reduces violence, that emphasises the rule of law and that ensures protection for all citizens,” he said.
More than 600,000 Rohingya have flooded into Bangladesh since late August, and now live in the squalor of the world’s biggest refugee camp. The crisis erupted after Rohingya rebels attacked police posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, triggering a military crackdown that saw hundreds of villages reduced to ashes and sparked a massive exodus. The UN says the Myanmar military is engaged in a “coordinated and systematic” attempt to purge the region of Rohingya in what amounts to a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
The stream of desperate refugees who escape across the riverine border bring with them stories of rape, murder and the torching of villages by soldiers and Buddhist mobs.
The Burmese government insists military action in Rakhine is a proportionate response to violence by militants.
Following its first official investigation into the crisis, the army published a report this week in which it cleared itself of any abuses.
However, it heavily restricts access to the region by independent journalists and aid groups, and verification of events on the ground is virtually impossible.
Suu Kyi, a former democracy activist, has been lambasted by rights groups for failing to speak up for the Rohingya or condemn festering anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.
Musician and campaigner Bob Geldof on Monday slammed Suu Kyi as a “murderer” and a “handmaiden to genocide”, becoming the latest in a growing line of global figures to disavow the one-time darling of the human rights community.
Supporters say she does not have the power to stop the powerful military, which ruled the country for decades until her party came to power following 2015 elections.
In a summit on Monday night with leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, Guterres also voiced concern about the Rohingya.
He said the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya was a “worrying escalation in a protracted tragedy,” according to the UN statement.
He described the situation as a potential source of instability in the region, as well as radicalisation.