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UN official says violence and torture continues on Rohingya

FILE PHOTO: UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng, right, addresses a news conference at the UN base in Juba, South Sudan, on 30 April 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

DHAKA — Crimes verging on genocide were being committed against the Rohingya minority in Burma, and those crimes bore “the fingerprints of the Myanmar government and of the international community,” the United Nations special adviser on the prevention of genocide said on Tuesday.

Adama Dieng spent a week in Bangladesh to assess the condition of the almost 700,000 Rohingya who had fled across the border from Burma, and he said during his trip he heard “terrifying stories.”

“Rohingya Muslims have been killed, tortured, raped, burnt alive and humiliated, solely because of who they are,” Dieng said in a prepared statement.

“All the information I have received indicates that the intent of the perpetrators was to cleanse northern Rakhine State of their existence, possibly even to destroy the Rohingya as such, which, if proven, would constitute the crime of genocide,” he said.

He called on the UN’s Security Council to “consider different accountability options.”

Burma’s national security adviser, Thaung Tun, last week said his government did not support such atrocities. “It is not the policy of the government, and this we can assure you,” he said. “Although there are accusations, we would like to have clear evidence.”

Burma has not allowed UN investigators into the country to investigate.

Another UN investigator said on Monday that Burma had launched new military operations against the Rohingya. Heavy artillery was being used in the offensives, UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Dieng also blamed an international community that “has buried its head in the sand” for the campaign against the Rohingya. During a press conference in Dhaka on Tuesday, he called on neighbouring powers China and India to “show not only political or economic leadership” but also “moral leadership.”

“The world,” he said in Tuesday’s statement, “needs to show that it is not ready to tolerate such barbaric acts.”