Rabat – Myanmar is carrying out ethnic cleansing of its community of Rohingya Muslims, according to a United Nations official.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar. They are not recognized as citizens by the Myanmar government and are therefore stateless. Nearly all of them live in Myanmar’s poorest state, in camps which they cannot leave without governmental permission.
30,000 of the Rohingya have abandoned their homes and fled to Bangladesh to escape the violence that began earlier this month. These refugees have told stories of slaughter, gang rape, torture, and murder by troops.
The Bangladeshi government faces a dilemma: whether or not to open their border to the refugees. They so far have resisted international pressure to open the border, instead telling the Myanmar government to prevent the Rohingya from leaving.
Opening the border could prevent the slaughter of the Rohingya, but it could also “further encourage the government of Myanmar to continue the atrocities and push them out until they have achieved their ultimate goal of ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority in Myanmar,” according to John McKissick, head of the UNHCR agency in Cox’s Bazar, a Bangladeshi border town.
This is not the first time Myanmar has been accused of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya. The spokesman for Myanmar President Htin Kyaw denied the allegations and criticized the UN, accusing them of operating on assumptions instead of “concrete and true facts.”