The UN human rights chief on Monday slammed Myanmar’s apparent “systematic attack” on the Rohingya minority, warning that “ethnic cleansing” seemed to be underway.
“Because Myanmar has refused access to human rights investigators the current situation cannot yet be fully assessed, but the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told the UN Human Rights Council.
The Rohingya are reviled in Myanmar, where the roughly one million-strong community are accused of being illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
The United Nations says 294,000 bedraggled and exhausted Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since the militants’ attacks on Myanmar security forces in neighbouring Rakhine state on August 25 sparked a major military backlash.
Tens of thousands more are believed to be on the move inside Rakhine after more than two weeks without shelter, food and water.
“The operation… is clearly disproportionate and without regard for basic principles of international law,” Zeid said.
“We have received multiple reports and satellite imagery of security forces and local militia burning Rohingya villages, and consistent accounts of extrajudicial killings, including shooting fleeing civilians,” he added.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has come in for strong international criticism over the military’s treatment of the Rohingya.