Reuters report on Myanmar massacre brings calls for independent probe

Almost 690,000 Rohingya have fled their villages and crossed the border of western Myanmar into Bangladesh since August.

Meanwhile, Britain, France, the US and five other countries asked the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to discuss the fate of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees driven from Myanmar, diplomats said, according to AFP.The council will hold a meeting next Tuesday to hear U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi's report on the crisis sparked by an army crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state in August. A parallel bill is making its way through the House. Bangladesh officials said they expected an announcement of the lifting the UK's ban of direct cargo flights from Dhaka at the meeting. The police's official account says the men attacked them, but the Reuters's reporting contradicts that claim.

The global community has condemned the actions of the Myanmar government and military in Rakhine State, which both the United States and the United Nations have described as "ethnic cleansing".

They also argue that some Rohingya who want to return may not have documents proving prior residency because their homes were burned during the crackdown, causing them to flee with few belongings. Bangladesh and Myanmar had earlier signed deals to start the repatriation.

Myanmar journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo face up to 14 years in a Myanmar prison after being accused by the government of "illegally (acquiring) information" after gathering testimony on the alleged massacre.

The organization conducted interviews with 19 Rohingya who arrived in Bangladesh in January and who said they had left their communities because of forced starvation, abductions, and looting of their property by Myanmar soldiers.

Dhaka expects an announcement from UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson lifting the direct cargo flight ban from Bangladesh. Reuters file
Dhaka expects an announcement from UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson lifting the direct cargo flight ban from Bangladesh. Reuters file

"As with other, previous reports of mass graves, this report highlights the ongoing and urgent need for Burmese authorities to co-operate with an independent, credible investigation into allegations of atrocities in northern Rakhine", Nauert said.

Tensions have been flaring for years, and many observers believe that the central government is now waging a clear ethnic cleansing campaign and is guilty of genocide.

However, more than a dozen interviews by the Associated Press with the most recent refugees show growing desperation, as the noose tightens around their communities in what United Nations officials have said may be genocide.

The group also called for an arms embargo and targeted sanctions as well as unfettered and sustained humanitarian access throughout northern Rakhine.

The Council's three permanent members - the U.S, Britain, and France - along with the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Kazakhstan, and Equatorial Guinea requested the meeting which will be held on February 20, during which Filippo Grandi, the U.S.'s high commissioner for refugees, will report on the crisis, AFP said, citing diplomats.

The General Assembly adopted a resolution in December asking Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to name a special envoy to Myanmar, but that appointment has yet to be made.

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  • Adam Floyd