Myanmar may be seeking to “expel” all ethnic Rohingya from its territory, a UN rights expert said on Monday, pushing for a high-level inquiry into abuses against the Muslim minority community.
The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said a full purge could be the ultimate goal of the institutional persecution and horrific violence being perpetrated against the Rohingya.
The evidence “indicates the government may be trying to expel the Rohingya population from the country altogether,” Lee told the UN rights council.
The army launched a bloody crackdown against the Rohingya in October in the northern Rakhine state following attacks by militants on several border posts.
UN investigators say that during the military operation women were gang-raped by soldiers and Rohingya babies were slaughtered.
Lee wants the rights council to establish the UN’s highest-level probe, a Commission of Inquiry (COI), to investigate that crackdown as well as violent episodes in 2012 and 2014.
The council could set up the commission before its session ends later this month, but key players including the European Union have not yet backed Lee’s call because of concern that a damning UN investigation might threaten the country’s fragile democracy drive.