A UN official investigating human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee [official profile], on Monday called [press release] for an immediate investigation into “clearance operations” in Rakhine State, stating she is increasingly convinced the state’s actions amount to genocide.
Lee called for a thorough investigation into the “alleged crimes that were committed in Rakhine State since October 9, 2016 and August 25, 2017, and for the violations that continue today.”
Experts of the UN Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar have reported [press release] that Myanmar security forces have committed “clearance operations,” driving nearly 700,000 Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh since August.
The operation is a response to Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) [BBC profile] attacks. However, “these operations resulted in a very high number of casualties.” The report states, “people died from gunshot wounds, often due to indiscriminate shooting at fleeing villagers. Some were burned alive in their homes – often the elderly, disabled and young children. Others were hacked to death.”
Satellite imagery shows that at least 319 villages were partially or totally destroyed by fire after the operations began on August 25, 2017.
We have hundreds of eyewitness accounts. We have seen unsettling photographs and satellite images of Rohingya villages flattened to the ground by bulldozers, erasing all remaining traces of the life and community that once was… All the information collected so far points to violence at an extremely cruel nature.
In addition to the investigation, Lee called for “the establishment of a UN structure, based in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, for a duration of three years to investigate, document, collect, consolidate, map, and analyze evidence of human rights violations and abuses.”