The “systematic violence” against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar still persists, and only its nature has changed, a top human rights official of the United Nations said on Tuesday after meeting refugees in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.
“The ethnic cleansing of Rohingya from Myanmar continues,” said Andrew Gilmour, the UN assistant secretary-general for human rights. “I don’t think we can draw any other conclusion from what I have seen and heard in Cox’s Bazar.”
Nearly seven lakh Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 2017 after a militant attack on security forces resulted in a violent crackdown. The United Nations and the United States called it the “ethnic cleansing” of the Muslim minority community.
Refugees who have arrived recently gave Gilmour “credible accounts” of continuing killings, rape, torture and abductions, as well as forced starvation.
“The nature of the violence has changed from the frenzied blood-letting 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,” Gilmour said.
He said that “safe, dignified and sustainable returns” of the refugees are “of course impossible under current conditions”.
Myanmar treats Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not acknowledge their rights as an official ethnic group. The community has been subjected to massive violence by the Buddhist majority and the Army in Myanmar. The Human Rights Watch said the military massacred people and raped, arbitrarily arrested and set ablaze hundreds of predominantly Rohingya villages in Rakhine state.