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Iran Press TV

UN rights chief urges end to rights violations against Rohingya Muslims

Iran Press TV

Fri Feb 3, 2017 11:32AM

A report by the UN human rights office says Myanmar's months-long crackdown on its Rohingya Muslims has likely killed hundreds of people, in a campaign that could amount to crimes against humanity and "ethnic cleansing."

In a statement on Friday, Zeid bin Ra'ad al-Hussein said security forces have committed mass killings and gang rapes of Muslims and burned their villages since the October campaign.

Investigators said they have chronicled new accounts of crimes including beatings, disappearances, gang rapes and brutal killings of children as young as 8 months old by Myanmar security forces.

"The government of Myanmar must immediately halt these grave human rights violations against its own people, instead of continuing to deny they have occurred," Hussein said.

The UN official commissioned the report after Myanmar denied the world body access to the Rakhine state. The report cites evidence from more than 200 of the Muslims, who have fled the violence to Bangladesh.

According to the UN report, witnesses had testified to "the killing of babies, toddlers, children, women and elderly; opening fire at people fleeing; burning of entire villages; massive detention; massive and systematic rape and sexual violence; deliberate destruction of food and sources of food."

The report further said hundreds have likely been killed in the crackdown, including an eight-month-old infant, who was slain while his mother was being gang-raped by security officers, and three children aged six or younger, who were "slaughtered with knives."

"The devastating cruelty to which these Rohingya children have been subjected is unbearable," Hussein said.

"What kind of hatred could make a man stab a baby crying out for his mother's milk?" he said.

Rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani cited "especially revolting" accounts of children being "slaughtered with knives" and said one 8-month-old infant was reportedly killed while his mother was gang-raped by five security officers.

Around 66,000 people have fled from the Muslim-majority northern part of Rakhine State to Bangladesh since Myanmar's military launched a security operation in October 2016, according to the UN report.

The report added that the operations "have likely resulted in hundreds of deaths," some of them through helicopters shooting at villages and dropping grenades on them.

The 1.1 million-strong Rohingya community, which the government brands as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, has been suffering widely-reported systematic aggression for years.

The violence fueled by Buddhist extremists has been interpreted as an attempt to force them out of the country's demographic configuration. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands forced from their homes as a result.

Last month, Malaysia hosted a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during which the participants called on the United Nations to intervene in Rakhine State, stressing that the escalation of violence against Rohingya Muslims there could lead to "genocide."

Myanmar's government later slammed Manila for holding the talks on the situation of Rohingya Muslims.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, an outspoken critic of the Myanmarese government, on Friday dispatched a ship carrying food and emergency supplies to Rohingya Muslims, saying their suffering would not be ignored.

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