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Burma on Saturday rejected the UN rights council’s decision to investigate allegations that security officers have murdered, raped and tortured Rohingya Muslims, saying the probe would only “inflame” the conflict.
The Geneva-based body agreed Friday to “urgently” dispatch a fact-finding mission to the Southeast Asian country, focusing on claims that police and soldiers have carried out violations against the Rohingya in Arakan State.
The army crackdown, launched in October after militants killed nine policemen, has sent tens of thousands of Rohingya fleeing across the border to Bangladesh.
Escapees have given UN investigators gruesome accounts of security officers stabbing babies to death, burning people alive and committing widespread gang rape.
The allegations have heaped enormous pressure on Burma’s one-year-old civilian government, which has vigorously swatted back calls for an international investigation.
Burma’s foreign affairs ministry on Saturday stopped short of saying it would block the UN-backed probe but said it “has dissociated itself from the resolution as a whole.”
“The establishment of an international fact-finding mission would do more to inflame, rather than resolve the issues at this time,” it added.
Burma is carrying out its own domestic inquiry into possible crimes in Arakan.
But rights groups and the UN have dismissed the body, which is led by retired general turned Vice President Myint Swe, as toothless.
The recent crackdown is only the latest conflict to beleaguer the stateless Rohingya, who are denied citizenship and face brutal discrimination in the Buddhist-majority country.
More than 120,000 Rohingya have languished in grim displacement camps ever since bouts of religious violence between Muslims and Buddhists ripped through Arakan State in 2012.
Most are not allowed to leave the squalid encampments, where they live in piecemeal shelters with little access to food, education and healthcare.