New York (September 13, 2017): The United Nations Security Council is set to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the deteriorating situation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, a day after the world body’s rights chief voiced the alarm about the ongoing crimes against the minority group which he described as an example of “ethnic cleansing.”
The 15-nation member announced it would hold an emergency meeting at the request of Sweden and Britain on Wednesday, amid an international outcry against the Myanmar government’s bloody crackdown on the minority Muslim community.
“It’s a sign of the significant worry that Security Council members have about the situation that is continuing to deteriorate for the many Rohingyas who are seeking to flee Rakhine State,” British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said.
The announcement came hours after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein denounced Myanmar’s brutal operation in Rakhine, warning it amounted to “ethnic cleansing.”
The country’s disgraced leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has defended the military’s operation as part of the “legitimate duty to restore stability” in the western state after a number of armed attacks on police and army posts there on August 25.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship by the state and have suffered years of persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, have been forced to flee the country in the past fortnight following a brutal crackdown the government describes as a “cleansing operation.”
A petition has already collected hundreds of thousands of signatures calling for Suu Kyi’s Nobel title to be revoked. Fellow Nobel laureates have also criticized the Myanmarese leader’s stance on the ongoing violence, urging her to take action to defend the Rohingya’s rights.
Critics have blamed her for complicity in the atrocities against the Rohingya, who are looked down on by the majority Buddhists in the country as illegal migrants from Bangladesh.
The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has said the latest wave of violence may have left more than 1,000 dead, most of them Rohingya Muslims.
According to the latest UN figures, over 370,000 Rohingya Muslims have already fled Myanmar. This has sparked a humanitarian crisis in neighboring Bangladesh, where refugee camps are already overcrowded and food and other aid are in short supply.
Most refugees have walked for days in harrowing journeys across rivers and through jungle, arriving sick, exhausted and in desperate need of shelter, food and water.
Dhaka, which initially tried to block the Rohingya from entering, said Monday that it would start registering all new arrivals and place them in a new refugee camp until their status is determined.
Amnesty International and Bangladeshi officials say the Myanmar military has planted landmines to harm the fleeing Rohingya refugees, many of whom arrive in Bangladesh with serious injuries.
The White House called on Myanmar’s forces to “respect the rule of law, stop the violence, and end the displacement of civilians from all communities.”
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang slammed “violent attacks” in western Myanmar and said Beijing supports the Myanmarese government’s efforts to “uphold peace and stability.”