Myanmar denies Rohingya persecution

A UN official says crimes verging on genocide are being committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar.
A UN official says crimes verging on genocide are being committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar.

Myanmar authorities have denied that the Rohingya minority was being persecuted in Rakhine state following reports by the United Nations that there was evidence of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

"Myanmar continues its efforts at putting Rakhine state back on the road to development and stability while still facing terrorism, funded and inspired from abroad," government mouthpiece Global New Light of Myanmar said in an editorial on Wednesday.

The newspaper said that it was an attack by the militants of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) that had led to military operations in Rakhine in August 2017, which prompted the exodus of people, mostly Rohingya Muslims, to Bangladesh.

It also suggested that, according to interviews conducted by Myanmar officials in Rakhine, many people left their homes owing to lack of jobs, food and threats from the ARSA.

"There were tensions and there was fighting in Rakhine State, but there was no genocide. The term genocide should not be used in Myanmar, nor in other countries, without clear evidence," the article said.

On Monday, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said in Geneva that the Myanmar government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, must be held accountable, together with the military, for the crimes committed against the Rohingyas.

Myanmar's army has been accused of murder, raping women and girls and burning Rohingya villages during the military operation in August 2017, which has led over 680,000 people to flee.

The exodus of Rohingyas from Rakhine comes after at least 70,000 Rohingyas fled the same area amid alleged attacks by the military following a similar assault on border posts by Rohingya insurgents in October 2016.

Australian Associated Press