GENEVA • Myanmar security forces have brutally driven out half a million Rohingya from Rakhine state, torching their homes, crops and villages to prevent them from returning, the United Nations Human Rights Office said yesterday.
In a report based on 65 interviews with Rohingya who have arrived in Bangladesh in the past month, it said that "clearance operations" had begun before insurgent attacks on police posts on Aug 25 and included killings, torture and rape of children.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein - who has described the government operations as "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" - said that the actions appeared to be "a cynical ploy to forcibly transfer large numbers of people without possibility of return".
The latest report by his Geneva office said: "Credible information indicates that the Myanmar security forces purposely destroyed the property of the Rohingya, scorched their dwellings and entire villages in Rakhine state, not only to drive the population out in droves but also to prevent the fleeing Rohingya victims from returning to their homes."
The destruction by security forces, often joined by "mobs" of armed Rakhine Buddhists, make the possibility of Rohingya returning to normal lives in Rakhine "almost impossible".
Myanmar security forces are believed to have planted landmines along the border in an attempt to prevent Rohingya from returning, it said, adding: "There are indications that violence is still ongoing."
Meanwhile, Myanmar on Tuesday held inter-faith prayers in Yangon in a bid to improve relations between Buddhists and Muslims since the eruption of deadly violence triggered an exodus of some 520,000 Muslims to Bangladesh.