The Human Rights Watch on Monday called for targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on the Myanmar military to stop further “crimes against humanity” in the country’s Rakhine state.

The watchdog also accused the Army of forced deportation, murder, rape and persecution of Rohingya Muslims in the region and said this has led to “countless deaths and mass displacement”. HRW said its research was based on satellite imagery.

The non-profit urged the United Nations Security Council to ask Myanmar to allow entry to a UN fact-finding mission to investigate the rights abuses. Myanmar should also allow aid agencies to reach the people in need, HRW said.

The organisation urged the Security Council to take steps to ensure justice, suggesting that they could also approach the International Criminal Court.

Earlier on Monday, Myanmar told the UN General Assembly that there was no ethnic cleansing or genocide against Muslims in Rakhine state. It claimed that such accusations by other countries were irresponsible and unsubstantiated.

Several nations had spoken about the plight of more than 4.2 lakh Rohingyas who had fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 25, when attacks by insurgent groups led to a military crackdown and further violence.

Earlier in September, the UN Human Rights Commissioner had criticised Myanmar’s apparent “systematic attack” on the Rohingya minority. “Because Myanmar has refused access to human rights investigators, the current situation cannot yet be fully assessed, but the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had told the UN Human Rights Council.

The Rohingya crisis

Lakhs of Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh in recent weeks, after violence broke out in Rakhine state. Rohingyas have been denied citizenship in Myanmar and are classified as illegal immigrants. The community has been subjected to violence by the Buddhist majority and the Army in Myanmar, though the country has repeatedly denied this claim.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de-facto leader, has been facing criticism from world leaders, and the crisis has threatened to jeopardise Myanmar’s US-aided shift toward democracy after five decades of military rule.