Yangon, Myanmar. A number of smoldering civil uprisings around the Asian nation have been dealt with in brutal fashion, causing concerns that the leadership is engaged not just in repression, but genocide of its residents.
A senior Myanmar government official on Tuesday denied there was ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in the northwestern state of Rakhine, where a military operation is aimed at the minority and has forced 75,000 people to flee to Bangladesh. Attacks last year by a Rohingya insurgent group ignited the biggest crisis of country leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s year in power.
The United Nations released a report in February that said Myanmar’s security forces had committed mass killings and gang rapes against Rohingya during their campaign against the insurgents, which may amount to crimes against humanity.
The Myanmar military has denied the accusations, saying it was engaged in a legitimate counter-insurgency operation, on the same order as the “anti-terrorist operation” underway in Ukraine’s Donbass region, which also has genocide investigator’s undivided attention here lately.
Just last month, the top UN human rights body agreed to send an international fact-finding mission to investigate the allegations, a move that Myanmar has opposed for good reason. While the UN report stopped short of explicitly labelling the actions of the security forces as ethnic cleansing, it said the violence committed against the Rohingya “has been described in other contexts” as ethnic cleansing.
The report also expressed “serious concerns” that the attacks were a result of a “purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.”
Myanmar minister Thaung Tun said the government needed “time and space” to address the issues and “where there is clear evidence of wrongdoing, we will take firm action in accordance with the law.” Meanwhile thousands linger in concentration camps while others live in a virtual war zone.