UN Security Council to Discuss Myanmar’s Rohingya Refugee Crisis
The U.N. Security Council will hold an urgent meeting this week on continuing violence in western Myanmar that has forced nearly 400,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee across the border into Bangladesh.
The meeting, which has been scheduled for Wednesday, was requested by Britain and Sweden Monday after Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N.’s human rights chief, referred to the treatment of the Rohingyas as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Zeid told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva his office has received numerous reports and satellite imagery of Myanmar security forces and local militias carrying out extrajudicial killings and burning entire Rohingya villages in Rakhine state. Zeid also cited reports of Myanmar troops planting landmines along the shared border.
The U.N. refugee agency says about 370,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh since the violence first erupted on August 25, when a group of Rohingya militants attacked dozens of police posts and an army base in what they said was an effort to protect their ethnic minority from persecution. About 400 people have been killed in subsequent clashes and a military counteroffensive that has triggered the current exodus.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina demanded Myanmar provide help for the displaced Rohingyas during a visit Tuesday to a border town in Cox’s Bazar district, home to one of many fast-filling refugee camps.
Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has borne the brunt of the growing and intense international criticism for her response to the violence.
The Nobel Peace laureate maintains there has been “a huge iceberg of misinformation” about the Rohingya crisis, and described many reports as “fake information” designed to promote the interests of “terrorists,” a word she used to describe the insurgents.
But a number of her fellow Nobel Peace laureates, including the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, have issued statements urging her to personally intervene and end the violence.
China, one of Myanmar’s main trading partners, offered a staunch defense of its southeast Asian neighbor Tuesday. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing the government supports Myanmar’s efforts to uphold peace and “stability” in Rakhine state.
The Rohingya are one of Myanmar’s many ethnic minorities in the Buddhist-majority nation. They are considered to be economic migrants from Bangladesh, and has been denied citizenship, even though most can show their families have been in the country for generations.