British govt says Rohingya persecution ‘looks like’ ethnic cleansing

The British government has said the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar “looks like ethnic cleansing.”

As new accounts emerged of atrocities in Rakhine state, Downing Street called on Myanmar’s government to permit access for aid agencies.

Myanmar soldiers “systematically targeted” Rohingya women for gang-rape during violence against the minority Muslim community, an UN special envoy said Sunday, after visiting Bangladesh’s southeastern district of Cox’s Bazar where some 610 000 Rohingya have taken refuge in the last ten weeks.

Many of these atrocities “could be crimes against humanity”, she said.

“We’ve been appalled by the inhumane violence that’s taken place in Rakhine State. It’s a major humanitarian crisis. It’s been created by Burma’s military and it looks like ethnic cleansing,” Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said, using the traditional name for the country.

“Burmese authorities need to stop the violence and ensure access into Rakhine State so that UK aid can provide a lifeline to those who are suffering there.”

May’s criticism comes after the UN called the situation in Myanmar a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” and various international human rights groups accused the country’s military of committing “crimes against humanity.”

More than 615,000 Rohingya refugees have fled the country since August 25, according to aid agencies, pouring into neighboring Bangladesh, which has struggled to deal with the influx.

(Featured image: A Rohingya village rights groups say was burnt down by Myanmar army during its “scorched earth campaign”)

 

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