UN's Human Rights Chief Just Went There on Myanmar

'Seems like a textbook example of ethnic cleansing'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2017 12:10 PM CDT
UN Human Rights Chief Drops 2 Volatile Words on Myanmar
In this Sept. 3, 2017, photo, Myanmar's Rohingya ethnic minority refugees reach for food distributed by volunteers in Bangladesh.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

The top human rights official for the UN has dropped a damning charge on Myanmar: "ethnic cleansing." Addressing the agency's Human Rights Council, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said that Myanmar will not allow investigators to fully assess what's happening to the Muslim Rohingya community, "but the situation seems like a textbook example of ethnic cleansing," per France 24. He's referring to the bloody crackdown by government forces against militants in the western part of the country. The government of Aung San Suu Kyi swears troops are going after only "terrorist" militants and doing their best to spare civilians, but members of the ethnic group fleeing the country tell a much different story of scorched villages of mass killings. As of Tuesday, about 370,000 had crossed the border into Bangladesh.

On Monday, the US joined those criticizing the military operation. "The massive displacement and victimization of people ... shows that Burmese security forces are not protecting civilians," said White House press chief Sarah Huckabee Sanders, per the Washington Times. And on Tuesday, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited refugees in makeshift camps and implored Myanmar to allow them to return safely, reports the BBC. "Hundreds of years they are staying there," she said. "How they can deny that they are not their citizens?" Myanmar, however, got an important note of support from China, which said it backed the government's moves toward "stability," per Reuters. Meanwhile, more than 400,000 people have signed a petition seeking to have Suu Kyi's Nobel Peace Prize withdrawn. (A columnist wrote a prescient piece back in 2014.)

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