GENEVA • The top United Nations human rights official called yesterday for allegations of atrocities committed against the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein also urged Myanmar's government to allow monitors into northern Rakhine state to investigate what he called suspected "acts of genocide" against the Muslim minority.
"What we're saying is... there are strong suspicions, yes, that acts of genocide may well have taken place. But only a court, having heard all the arguments, will confirm this," Mr Zeid told reporters.
The United Nations defines genocide as acts meant to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group in whole or in part.
Such a designation is rare under international law, and Mr Zeid noted that the threshold is high.
Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled Rakhine state into Bangladesh since insurgent attacks sparked a security crackdown last August.
Many have provided harrowing testimonies of executions and rapes of civilians by Myanmar security forces.
Myanmar wants to see clear evidence to support accusations of ethnic cleansing or genocide, National Security Adviser Thaung Tun said on Thursday.
Mr Zeid, asked about the remarks, said that the Myanmar authorities were "serial deniers of the truth", adding: "To suggest that nothing serious has happened in Rakhine, I mean it's preposterous, ridiculous. How can they say such a thing?"