HRW, Amnesty condemn UN's inaction over violence against Rohingyas
Observer Online Desk
Two leading human rights groups on Tuesday slammed the United Nations Security Council for inaction over the crisis in Myanmar, where 3,70,000 Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee in a campaign described as ethnic cleansing.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International deplored the council's failure to speak out and demand an end to the violence in western Rakhine state as the top United Nations body prepared to hold a closed-door session on Wednesday.
Britain and Sweden requested the meeting on Myanmar, two weeks after the council met, also behind closed doors. No formal statement was issued following that meeting on 30 August.
"This is ethnic cleansing on a large scale, it seems, and the Security Council cannot open its doors and stand in front of the cameras? It's appalling frankly," HRW's United Nations director Louis Charbonneau told reporters.
The exodus from Rakhine state began after Rohingya militants attacked police posts on 25 August, prompting a military backlash that has sent a third of the Muslim minority population fleeing for their lives.
Exhausted Rohingya refugees crossing into Bangladesh have given accounts of atrocities at the hands of soldiers and Buddhist mobs who burned their villages to the ground.
"Without some sort of public proclamation by Security Council members, the message you are sending to the Myanmar government is deadly, and they will continue to do it," said Sherine Tadros, head of Amnesty International's United Nations office.
Other than condemning the violence, the council could adopt a resolution threatening sanctions against those responsible for the repression, said Human Rights Watch.
Since the council last met on Myanmar, 3,10,000 Rohingyas have fled violence and been forced to become refugees, said HRW's deputy UN director Akshaya Kumar.
Kumar quoted reports from HRW researchers in the field who said Rakhine state was "still on fire" with hundreds of destitute Rohingyas continuing to cross into Bangladesh.
At the meeting tomorrow, China is expected to push back against appeals for United Nations involvement and declare its support for the Yangon government, which maintains its military operation is aimed at countering an insurgency.
Last week, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres took the rare step of writing a letter to the council urging members to send a message to Myanmar authorities to end the security operation.