Rohingya ‘ethnic cleansing continuing’

AFP-Jiji YANGON (AFP-Jiji) — Myanmar is continuing its “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya with a “campaign of terror and forced starvation” in Rakhine State, a U.N. human rights envoy said on Tuesday, six months after a military crackdown sparked a mass exodus of the Muslim minority.

Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled over the border to Bangladesh since August, with horrifying testimony of murder, rape and arson by soldiers and vigilante mobs.

While the majority of those refugees fled Myanmar last year, Rohingya are still streaming across the border by the hundreds every week.

“The ethnic cleansing of Rohingya from Myanmar continues. I don’t think we can draw any other conclusion from what I have seen and heard in Cox’s Bazar,” U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour said after speaking to newly-arrived Rohingya in Bangladesh’s crowded refugee camps.

“The nature of the violence has changed from the frenzied bloodletting and mass rape of last year to a lower-intensity campaign of terror and forced starvation that seems to be designed to drive the remaining Rohingya from their homes and into Bangladesh,” he said in a statement, adding that new arrivals are traveling from towns in Rakhine’s interior farther from the border.

His statement also said it was “inconceivable” that any Rohingya would be able to return to Myanmar in the near future, despite its pledges to start taking back some refugees.

“The Government of Myanmar is busy telling the world that it is ready to receive Rohingya returnees, while at the same time its forces are continuing to drive them into Bangladesh,” Gilmour said. “Safe, dignified and sustainable returns are of course impossible under current conditions.”

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