Myanmar’s envoy to Japan denied allegations of ethnic cleansing and atrocities against Rohingya people despite U.N. reports to the contrary and 500,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.
Thurain Thant Zin, Myanmar’s ambassador to Japan, claimed Wednesday that U.N. reports detailing human rights abuses and “textbook ethnic cleansing” against the Rohingya at the hands of the Burmese army were false, according to The Associated Press.
The U.N. released another report Wednesday that completely contradicted Zin’s denial and detailed “coordinated and systematic” attacks against the Rohingya instigated both by Burmese security forces and by Buddhist mobs with the purpose of driving the Rohingya completely out of Burma, according to the AP. (Related: The World’s Longest Running Civil War Has No End In Sight)
Burmese security forces told some of the Rohingya interviewed both before and during the attacks “You do not belong here — go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you,” the U.N. report said.
Burmese security forces restricted access for the Rohingya to medical clinics, religious sites, schools, and markets as early as July 25 and arrested Rohingya men aged 15 to 40 years without charges and continued to detain the people, according to the latest U.N. report. A previous U.N. report detailed military attacks where soldiers raped Rohingya women while slaughtering the children.
Reports of 500,000 Rohingya being driven out of Burma into overcrowded, flooded refugee camps in Bangladesh were greatly exaggerated, claimed the Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese Military, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.
“It is an exaggeration to say that the number of Bengalis fleeing to Bangladesh is very large,” Hlaing said according to the AP.
Hlaing referred to the Rohingya as Bengalis, as the people group originated in Bangladesh and settled in Burma long before the country gained its independence from Britain. The majority of ethnic Burmese view the Rohingya as outsiders, and Burma’s government does not recognize the Rohingya as one of the 135 official ethnic groups in the country and therefore denies them citizenship.
Zin went a step further than Hlaing, however, and entirely denied any history of ethnic or religious tensions in Burma.
“Up to today, Myanmar has no ethnic or religious problems,” Zin said.
Hundreds of field reports from the Free Burma Rangers — a humanitarian aid group founded by David Eubank and has aided various ethnic minorities in Burma for 24 years — detail years of systematic attacks by the Burmese military. The attacks involve concentration camps, raids, artillery, and air strikes against not only the Rohingya, but several other ethnic groups of various faiths, including Buddhists and Christians, in what is, contrary to Zin’s denials, the longest running civil war in the world.
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