UN human rights experts want Myanmar to investigate allegations that security forces have killed unarmed civilians, burned villages and made arbitrary arrests in a Muslim-majority region where a crackdown has followed attacks on border police.
Aid agencies say up to 15,000 people, believed to be mostly Rohingya Muslims, have been displaced since armed men launched coordinated attacks on three posts along the northwestern border with Bangladesh on October 9.
The government, which is led by the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace prize winner, has characterised the response of security forces as a carefully targeted sweep of northern Rakhine state’s Maungdaw township in search of the perpetrators.
Rights group and sources from the mostly Rohingya community say civilians are bearing the brunt of the military-led operation. And they say the death toll from the violence is higher than reported.
Yanghee Lee, the UN envoy on human rights in Myanmar, said she had received “repeated allegations of arbitrary arrests as well as extrajudicial killings occurring within the context of the security operations conducted by the authorities in search of the alleged attackers”.
“What troubles me most is the lack of access for a proper assessment of the true picture of the situation there at the present moment,” Lee said in a statement from Geneva on Monday.
“The blanket security operations have restricted access for humanitarian actors with concerning consequences for communities’ ability to secure food and conduct livelihood activities,” Lee added.
The UN’s special envoys on summary executions, internally displaced persons, and torture also joined Lee’s call for “proper and thorough investigations of alleged violations”.
Rohingya community leaders and local residents said on Monday that hundreds of people had been hiding out in rice paddies near their village since soldiers allegedly ordered about 2,000 people to leave their homes on Sunday.
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