The UN special rapporteur on Myanmar has expressed concern that the Southeast Asian country may be seeking to “expel” all members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim community from its territory.
Addressing the UN Human Rights Council in the Swiss city of Geneva on Monday, Yanghee Lee warned that a full purge could be the ultimate goal of the institutional persecution and horrific violence being perpetrated against the Rohingya Muslims.
Lee, who visited Myanmar twice in the past year, said that the country was still making Rohingyas’ lives difficult by conducting a household survey and dismantling homes in the troubled Rakhine State.
“Conducting a household survey – where those absent may be struck off the list that could be the only legal proof of their status in Myanmar – indicates the government may be trying to expel the Rohingya population from the country altogether. I sincerely hope that that is not the case.”
A four-month crackdown on the minority group has seen some 75,000 Rohingya Muslims flee to neighboring Bangladesh, where Lee said she had heard “harrowing account after harrowing account.”
“I heard allegation after allegation of horrific events like these – slitting of throats, indiscriminate shootings, setting alight houses with people tied up inside and throwing very young children into the fire, as well as gang rapes and other sexual violence,” she said.
Elsewhere in her remarks, Lee also pushed for a high-level inquiry into abuses against the Muslim minority community.
The UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, has said treatment of the Rohingya merits a UN commission of inquiry and review by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Rakhine has been under a military siege since October 2016 over a raid on a police post that was blamed on the Rohingya.
The violence against the Rohingya is a blow to efforts by Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to reach a comprehensive peace agreement with the country’s ethnic minorities.