Bangkok: United Nations investigators have exposed Myanmar’s lie that the offensive by security forces launched against Rohingya Muslims was in response to insurgent attacks in Rakhine state on August 25.
Rohingya survivors have told the UN the security forces began attacking Rohingya townships and villages weeks earlier, in early August.
The UN Human Rights Office report indicates that the campaign of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar’s poorest state was pre-meditated.
The report detailing the investigator’s findings makes for harrowing reading, revealing unimaginable cruelty.
One pregnant woman was raped and mutilated, and, her unborn baby killed with a knife.
The key finding is that the security forces and Buddhist vigilante collaborators are not only driving out Rohingya from northern Rakhine but are taking actions to prevent them from returning to their homes.
The report exposes as false the claim by Myanmar’s de factor leader Aung San Suu Kyi that the military’s offensive stopped on September 5. It cites evidence of explosions, shootings and burnings after that date.
“There are indications that violence is still ongoing at the time of writing,” it said.
The report also makes clear the extent of the atrocities are unknown.
Suu Kyi’s government is refusing to allow UN investigators to enter Rakhine. In one village “the most beautiful” unmarried girls were rounded up, separated from their families and taken away, witnesses said.
The girls have not been since since.
The report describes attacks by Myanmar forces, which have forced an exodus of more than half a million Rohingya, as well-organised, coordinated and systematic.
Its release in Geneva will ensure more international outrage will be levelled at Aung San Suu Kyi – once described as “one of the great heroes of our time” – because her country’s military is getting away with mass murder.
Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, should read the report and note comments by UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein calling on Suu Kyi’s government to end its “cruel” security operation.
Ms Bishop has refused to condemn Ms Suu Kyi’s government and Australia has refused with cut military ties with Myanmar’s army, which includes training in peace keeping.
The report lays out a practical option for Australia to show leadership in helping the rapidly deteriorating emergency in Rohingya camps at the Bangladesh border, now the world’s largest concentration of refugees.
“There are serious protection concerns regarding the immediate needs of the most vulnerable and it is important [for the international community] to establish a permanent presence at boat landing sites as part of the immediate response,” the report said.
The Turnbull government could immediately despatch logistical forces there.