“Pow­er­ful forces in the Burmese govern­ment have de­nied the eth­nic cleans­ing in Rakhine State.”

US am­bas­sador to the UN Nikki Ha­ley

New Straits Times - - WORLD -

THE United States on Tues­day de­scribed Myan­mar ’s de­nials of eth­nic cleans­ing of Ro­hingya Mus­lims as “pre­pos­ter­ous” as it called on the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (UNSC) to hold the mil­i­tary ac­count­able and pres­sure leader Aung San Suu Kyi “to ac­knowl­edge these hor­rific acts that are tak­ing place in her coun­try”.

“Pow­er­ful forces in the Burmese govern­ment have de­nied the eth­nic cleans­ing in Rakhine State,” US am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions Nikki Ha­ley told UNSC.

“To make sure no one con­tra­dicts their pre­pos­ter­ous de­nials, they are prevent­ing ac­cess to Rakhine to any­one or any or­gan­i­sa­tion that might bear wit­ness to their atroc­i­ties, in­clud­ing the UNSC,” Ha­ley said.

She also called for the re­lease of Reuters re­porters ar­rested for re­port­ing on the mas­sacre of Ro­hingya Mus­lims.

“We strongly call for their im­me­di­ate and un­con­di­tional re­lease,” she said.

On Myan­mar’s rea­son for de­tain­ing the jour­nal­ists, she said: “On top of it all, they have the gall to blame the me­dia.”

The Reuters spe­cial re­port, pub­lished last week, laid out events lead­ing up to the killing of 10 Ro­hingya men from Inn Din vil­lage in Rakhine State who were buried in a mass grave af­ter be­ing hacked to death or shot by Bud­dhist neigh­bours and sol­diers.

French UN Am­bas­sador Fran­cois De­lat­tre also told UNSC that a mas­sacre of Ro­hingya Mus­lims re­ported by Reuters could “con­sti­tute crimes against hu­man­ity”.

Myan­mar de­nied that eth­nic cleans­ing had taken place.

Any push for UNSC ac­tion was likely to face re­sis­tance from coun­cil veto pow­ers Rus­sia and China, who both said on Tues­day the sit­u­a­tion in Rakhine State was sta­ble and un­der con­trol.

“Us­ing la­bels and at­tempts to use con­tra­dic­tory and sub­jec­tive re­ports of the me­dia... to find out who’s guilty and con­demn them only move us far­ther away from a so­lu­tion,” Rus­sia’s deputy UN am­bas­sador Dmitry Polyan­skiy warned.

Nearly 690,000 Ro­hingya have fled Rakhine State and crossed into south­ern Bangladesh since last Au­gust, when at­tacks on se­cu­rity posts by in­sur­gents trig­gered a mil­i­tary crack­down that the UN said might amount to geno­cide.

“Con­di­tions are not yet con­ducive to the vol­un­tary repa­tri­a­tion of Ro­hingya refugees,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi told UNSC.

Myan­mar UN am­bas­sador Hau Do Suan said some diplo­mats had been able to travel to Rakhine State, but also told UNSC not to visit dur­ing Fe­bru­ary be­cause it was “not the right time”, Kuwait’s UN am­bas­sador Man­sour Ayyad Al-Otaibi said this month.

With ref­er­ence to Reuters jour­nal­ists ar­rested for re­port­ing on the Ro­hingya, Hau said the jour­nal­ists were not ar­rested in De­cem­ber for re­port­ing a story, but were ac­cused of “il­le­gally pos­sess­ing con­fi­den­tial govern­ment doc­u­ments”.

EPA PIC

A boy car­ry­ing re­lief goods at the site of the newly ex­tended refugee camps at Ku­tu­pa­long in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on Mon­day.

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