Myanmar military likely killed and raped hundreds during Rohingya crackdown

A report by the UN's Human Rights Office said that the "area clearance operations" launched in the country's Rakhine province in October 2016 "has likely resulted in several hundred deaths", with Rohingya refugees reporting violations amounting to crimes against humanity, AFP reported.

Linnea Arvidsson, one of the four United Nations workers who interviewed Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and drew up the report, told The Independent she had never encountered such a "shocking" situation. The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said reports indicated that the intensity and frequency of security forces' operations had declined this year, but are continuing.

The Rohingya Muslims are loathed by many among Myanmar's Buddhist majority.

Almost half reported a family member had been killed or disappeared while 101 women reported having been raped or subjected to sexual violence, it said.

Shamdasani said the allegations in the report had been presented to Myanmar authorities, but she declined to indicate what the response was, deferring to government officials.

Witnesses have testified to "the killing of babies, toddlers, children, women and elderly; opening fire at people fleeing; burning of entire villages; massive detention; massive and systematic rape and sexual violence; deliberate destruction of food and sources of food".

Myanmar, a mostly Buddhist country where Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is de facto leader, has denied nearly all allegations of human rights abuses in northern Rakhine and says a lawful counterinsurgency campaign is under way.

More than half of the 101 women interviewed said they had been victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence. The report recounts in chilling detail abuses against Rohingya children. "See what we can do?" They have faced many accusations in recent months that soldiers and police have killed and raped Rohingya and burned their homes, and were targeting people based on their religion and ethnicity. They've been called "the most persecuted minority in the world".

"And for the mother to witness this murder while she is being gang-raped by the very security forces who should be protecting her - what kind of "clearance operation" is this?"

She said the U.N. Human Rights Council could refer the issue to the U.N. Security Council, which in turn had the power to pass it to the International Criminal Court. "I called upon her to use every means available to exert pressure on the military and the security services to end this operation", Zeid said.

"I call on the global community, with all its strength, to join me in urging the leadership in Myanmar to bring such military operations to an end", Mr Zeid said, emphasising that "the gravity and scale of these allegations beg the robust reaction of the worldwide community". "The gravity and scale of these allegations begs the robust reaction of the global community".

  • Joey Payne