Myanmar rejects UN probe into Rohingya abuse claims

YANGON • Myanmar yesterday rejected the United Nations rights council's decision to investigate allegations that security officers have murdered, raped and tortured Rohingya Muslims, saying the probe would only "inflame" the conflict.

The Geneva-based body agreed on Friday to "urgently" dispatch a fact-finding mission to the South- east Asian country, focusing on claims that police and soldiers have carried out violations against the Rohingya in Rakhine state.

The army crackdown, launched last October after militants killed nine policemen, has sent tens of thousands of Rohingya fleeing across the border to Bangladesh. Escapees have given UN investigators gruesome accounts of security officers stabbing babies to death, burning people alive and committing widespread gang rape.

The claims have heaped enormous pressure on Myanmar's one- year-old civilian government, which has vigorously swatted back calls for an international investigation. The Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday stopped short of saying it would block the UN-backed probe but said it "has dissociated itself from the resolution as a whole".

"The establishment of an international fact-finding mission would do more to inflame, rather than resolve the issues at this time," it added.

Myanmar is carrying out its own inquiry. But rights groups and the UN have dismissed the body, which is led by Vice-President Myint Swe, as toothless.

More than 120,000 Rohingya, who are denied citizenship and face brutal discrimination, have languished in displacement camps ever since bouts of religious violence between Muslims and Buddhists ripped through Rakhine state in 2012. Most are not allowed to leave the squalid encampments, where they live in piecemeal shelters with little access to food, education and healthcare.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 26, 2017, with the headline 'Myanmar rejects UN probe into Rohingya abuse claims'. Print Edition | Subscribe