Myanmar wants ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, the United Nations says

Dopo Human rights watch, anche un funzionario dell’Alto commissariato Onu per i rifugiati denuncia che nell’ex Birmania è in corso la pulizia etnica dei rohingya.

Myanmar is seeking the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Rohingya minority from its territory“. Or at least so the military wing that governed the country in an authoritarian way in the 1960’s wants. These harsh words have been said by John McKissick, head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR in the area. Human Rights Watch had made similar claims a few years ago, and now the United Nations are denouncing the situation.

Buddhists setting fire to Rohingya villages in the Rakhine State © HRW

McKissick has talked from the Bangladeshi border town of Cox’s Bazar, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people are seeking refuge. In fact, the members of the Muslim minority are denied Burmese citizenship, and about a million of them live in extreme poverty in the Rakhine state, south-western Myanmar.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s reticence

Burmese armed forces’ violence against the Rohingya has been going on since 2012, overshadowing the democratic transition started in 2010. One year ago, the party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy, has won overwhelmingly the general elections, and the Nobel Peace prize winner became the country’s de facto leader. In addition, the Obama administration has lifted sanctions on Myanmar, in order to boost the economic growth (8.6 per cent).

However, a law of the former military junta prevented Suu Kyi from being elected president. For this, Suu Kyi found herself in a difficult position, with the pressures of the military on one side and an uncontrolled humanitarian crisis on the other. According to analysts and the BBC, she hasn’t openly denounced the crimes and “has kept her head firmly in the sand, avoiding journalists and press conferences”.

A new confirmation of the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya

A Rohingya refugee in Malaysia © AFP/Getty Images

John McKissick said: “Security forces have been killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river into Bangladesh”. In fact, Rohingya people are forced to escape through the Naf river, relying on traffickers and paying, if possible, border guards.

See also: The Rohingya: the invisible community persecuted by Buddhists

UNHCR official John McKissick refers to the events following the killing of 9 border guards earlier in October. Some Burmese politicians have accused a Rohingya activist group for the attacks, despite there’s no evidence of is responsibility. Authorities prevent journalists and operators from visiting the areas but, according to humanitarian organisations, the latest surge in violence led to the killing of 100 people and 100 more people to be wounded. Human Rights Watch has also released satellite images showing that at least 1,200 Rohingya houses have been razed over the past 6 weeks.

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