Attacks on Hindus and other minorities in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the threats from terrorism were raised in the UN Security Council while members strongly condemned Myanmar’s onslaught on Rohingyas that led to the refugee crisis….A special report by Arul Louis for Asian Lite News
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that in Myanmar “the situation has spiraled into the world’s fastest developing refugee emergency and a humanitarian and human rights nightmare”.
However, he also noted the role of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in the crisis..
“The current crisis has steadily deteriorated since the August 25 attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on the Myanmar security forces,” he said. “I repeat my condemnation of those attacks.”
ARSA is a separatist organisation that wants to create an Islamic state in Rakhine state and is led by Ata Ullah, a Pakistan-born ethnic Rohingya who has lived in Saudi Arabia.
“The devastating humanitarian situation is not only a breeding ground for radicalization, it also puts vulnerable people – including young children – at risk of criminal elements including trafficking,” Guterres warned.
He demanded that the Myamar military should immediately stop its operations, allow humanitarian aid to reach the affected people and enable the Rohingyas to return home.
About 500,000 people have taken refuge in Bangladesh and of them 94 percent were Rohingyas, he added.
The Security Council did not take any action or pass any resolutions.
While the Myanmar military and security forces were censured in the strongest terms by most of the 15 members of the Security Council for the onslaught on the Rohingyas, many also joined in condemning the attacks by the ARSA.
Russia’s Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said that according to reports, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army was guilty of killing civilians and had forced Hindus flee to Bangladesh.
He said that “outside players” were involved and any more radicalisation of the Rohingyas should not be allowed to happen as it only help extremists put roots in the region.
Photos seized from the ARSA showed that they were documenting their attacks to show their foreign sponsors, he alleged.
Zambrana, a delegate of Bolivia, called for investigation of all actions that exacerbated tensions and incited violence, noting that besides the Rohingyas there were other victims including Hindus.
Myanmar’s National Security Adviser U Thaung Tun alleged that a large number of Hindu villagers have been massacred and buried in mass graves in Rakhine.
United States Permanent Representative Nikki Haley condemned the “reported violence against other minority communities in Rakhine State” as well as the August 25 attacks on security posts.
“But what has happened since dwarfs these attacks in its disproportionate, indiscriminate violence,” she added, accusing Myanmar of ethnic cleansing. “We cannot be afraid to call the actions of the Burmese authorities what they appear to be: a brutal, sustained campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority,” she said.
Many of the other Security Council members echoed her strong condemnation of the Myanmar government and Guterres’s demands.
Bangladesh Permanent Representative Masud Bin Momen said that reports of “Muslims killing Hindus” should be seen as the Myanmar government’s failure to protect its people.
He added that allegations and counter-allegations of atrocities must be fully investigated by the Security Council.
Egypt’s Permanent Representative Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta said that backing the rights of Rohingya did not mean supporting violence of any related groups.
But he added: “It is important to ask: What choice are we leaving to these people, other than taking up arms to defend themselves?”
U Thaung said that the root of the crisis was terrorism and not religion and “terrorism constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security”.
He invited Guterres to visit Myanmar and said that diplomats and media will visit Rakhine next week.
Myanmar was ready to hold talks with Bangladesh on arranging the return of refugees, he said.
“Our stated willingness to discuss the issue of repatriation gives the lie to the assertion that there is a policy of ethnic cleansing on our part.”