“Powerful forces in the Burmese government have denied the ethnic cleansing in Rakhine State.”
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley
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”.
A boy carrying relief goods at the site of the newly extended refugee camps at Kutupalong in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on Monday.