United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on Myanmar’s government to immediately cease the ongoing violence against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority and let those who have fled return to their ancestral homeland.
“We insist on the need to make sure, not only that all violence against this population stops, but also we need to insist on unhindered humanitarian access to all areas of north Rakhine state,” Guterres told reporters in New York on Friday.
He described the plight of the Rohingya as an “immense tragedy,” adding that “the levels of violence and the atrocities committed are something that we cannot be silent about.”
The UN chief said it was an “absolutely essential priority … all the population that fled to Bangladesh … return, safe … to the places where they left.”
“It is absolutely essential to address the root cause of the problem, which relies largely on the problems related to citizenship and to the legal status of this population that has been discriminated and that is stateless at the present moment,” the UN secretary general said.
He added that the UN would pursue all legal domains to determine the legal status of the persecuted Rohingya population.
More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the latest violence began in late August. The government has been engaged in a campaign against the Rohingya that the UN and human rights groups have called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the international community and world leaders to address the plight of Rohingya Muslims.
“Massacres, rape, looting, and mass burnings of homes and property amount to crimes against humanity,” Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.
The US-based rights group called on the UN to ask the International Criminal Court in The Hague to launch an investigation into the crimes.