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UN Official: Rohingya in Myanmar Facing 'Ethnic Cleansing'

2017-09-12

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[00:00.00]
  • The United Nations’ human rights chief has joined a growing group of international voices condemning the government in Myanmar.
  • [00:12.73]
  • The group blames the government for the wave of violence that has forced thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.
  • [00:26.39]
  • The United Nations official, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, spoke on Monday to a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • [00:41.69]
  • He said his office has received many reports and satellite images of the violence.
  • [00:50.39]
  • He said they provide evidence of Myanmar security forces and militias carrying out extrajudicial killings and burning entire Rohingya villages.
  • [01:07.73]
  • Zeid also noted reports of Myanmar troops placing landmines along the border with Bangladesh.
  • [01:18.33]
  • "Because Myanmar has refused access to human rights investigators, the current situation cannot yet be fully assessed," he told the council, "but the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."
  • [01:39.65]
  • On Sunday, Amnesty International accused Myanmar of placing landmines along the roads that Rohingya refugees use to enter Bangladesh.
  • [01:57.71]
  • The group reported two landmine explosions on Sunday.
  • [02:04.23]
  • One explosion reportedly blew off a young man's leg while he was guarding cattle near the border.
  • [02:14.29]
  • Zeid made his report a day after Rohingya fighters called for a month-long cease-fire.
  • [02:25.06]
  • The fighters said they want humanitarian aid to be able to reach all victims of the conflict.
  • [02:33.93]
  • The rebels are calling themselves the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.
  • [02:41.72]
  • They launched an attack on several police positions and an army base late last month.
  • [02:51.88]
  • The attacks and resulting fighting led to the displacement of more than 300,000 people.
  • [03:03.47]
  • The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, sent a message to Myanmar last Friday.
  • [03:13.65]
  • It said the U.S. government supports the fight against violence in Rakhine state.
  • [03:23.43]
  • But the statement added that humanitarian aid must reach those in need.
  • [03:32.20]
  • Myanmar is a Buddhist-majority nation.
  • [03:36.57]
  • The Rohingya are one of the country’s many ethnic minorities.
  • [03:43.22]
  • The government considers the Rohingya to be economic migrants from Bangladesh.
  • [03:51.65]
  • It has never given them citizenship.
  • [03:55.73]
  • Yet most Rohingya can prove their families have lived for generations in the country, also called Burma.
  • [04:07.06]
  • The latest violence and a military campaign killed at least 400 people.
  • [04:15.94]
  • It also led to the latest mass movement of Rohingya villagers to Bangladesh.
  • [04:24.87]
  • Vivian Tan is the U.N. Refugee Agency Asia Director in Bangladesh.
  • [04:33.05]
  • She told VOA Burmese that aid workers believe there are about 164,000 new arrivals in Bangladesh.
  • [04:46.82]
  • The United Nations reported that about 146,000 people have crossed the border into Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar district since August 25.
  • [05:02.48]
  • Officials with the World Food Program said they have provided tens of thousands of people with food.
  • [05:13.65]
  • The U.N. agency added that it needs $11.3 million to support the new arrivals, as well as the refugees already living in camps.
  • [05:28.81]
  • Aung San Suu Kyi is the de facto leader of Myanmar and the winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • [05:40.57]
  • But critics have condemned her reaction to the violence.
  • [05:47.72]
  • Many observers say Aung San Suu Kyi has tried to dismiss reports of the Burmese military's violent treatment of Rohingya civilians.
  • [06:02.14]
  • She says there has been a lot of misinformation about the Rohingya crisis and violence in Rakhine following the attacks on security forces.
  • [06:18.33]
  • Aung San Suu Kyi used the word “terrorists” to describe the Rohingya fighters.
  • [06:26.58]
  • And she said “fake information” was used to support their interests.
  • [06:34.12]
  • A number of other Nobel Prize winners have made statements asking her to personally intervene and end the violence.
  • [06:47.59]
  • They include the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai.
  • [07:05.19]
  • Every year, the U.S. Department of State lists all the crises that it considers the most important human rights issues around the world.
  • [07:18.96]
  • In 2016, it listed abuses against and restrictions on members of the Rohingya population as one of the leading human rights problems in Myanmar.
  • [07:36.79]
  • I’m Caty Weaver.
  • [07:38.99]
  • And I'm Ashley Thompson.
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