Myanmar’s military likely killed and raped hundreds of people including children in its crackdown against the Rohingya Muslims, the United Nations said on Friday. A report by the UN’s Human Rights Office said that the “area clearance operations” launched in the country’s Rakhine province in October 2016 “has likely resulted in several hundred deaths”, with Rohingya refugees reporting violations amounting to crimes against humanity, AFP reported.
Forty-seven percent of those interviewed by the UN for the report said that they had a family member who was killed in the operation, while 43% reported being raped, the Rights Office said. “An eight-month-old baby was reportedly killed while his mother was gang-raped by five security officers,” the office said. “What kind of hatred could make a man stab a baby crying out for his mother’s milk?” asked Human Rights Commissioner Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein.
A spokesperson for the Rights Office said that the violations documented by the UN “could be described as ethnic cleansing”. The report added that the violence against the Rohingyas was because of a “purposeful policy” designed by one group to remove them from area “through violent and terror-inspiring means”. “The Government of Myanmar must immediately halt these grave human rights violations against its own people, instead of continuing to deny they have occurred,” al-Hussein said. However, a Myanmar government spokesperson did not comment, saying that he had not seen the UN’s report.
In November 2016, the UN said that at least 10,000 Rohingya Muslims had fled Myanmar and had sought refuge in Bangladesh during that month. Nearly 70,000 people from the community have sought refuge in Bangladesh because of the crisis. Myanmar treats Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not acknowledge their rights as an official ethnic group. The country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has also been criticised for not doing enough to resolve the Rohingya crisis. Access to the troubled Rakhine state has also been blocked to journalists and aid workers, according to reports.