The United Nations human rights office has urged Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to halt the persisting violence and discrimination against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the country.
“Our ask of Aung San Suu Kyi is certainly to immediately stop the violence,” Director of the UN’s Asia and Pacific region human rights office Jyoti Sanghera said on Wednesday.
She was speaking during a briefing in Geneva to present a report on Myanmar’s military campaign against the embattled minority population in the country’s northern Rakhine State.
Sanghera expressed concern that the displaced Rohingya refugees that have fled to neighboring Bangladesh might be “incarcerated or detained” on their return to Myanmar, where she said they lacked citizenship status or any other civil and political rights.
The development came a day after the world body declared that it remained on “full alert” for a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims as reports indicated a sharp rise in their flight from the Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
UN gearing up for heavy influx of Rohingya Muslim refugees
Myanmar’s army intensified a brutal crackdown on the ethnic minority population in August, with numerous reports of massacre and rape by Myanmarese soldiers and Buddhist mobs against the Rohingya. The military had already laid siege to the Muslims in Rakhine late last year.
Authorities in Myanmar, led by Suu Kyi, have been tightly controlling access to Rakhine since August, when purported attacks by Rohingya fighters prompted a brutal military response that has forced over 515,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.
The crackdown has left scores of Rohingya villages torched and completely destroyed. Estimates as to how many Muslims have been killed vary from 1,000 to 3,000.
Suu Kyi, who has won a Nobel Peace Prize, has refused to take any action to end the violence.
Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a large-scale cholera immunization campaign has begun near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh, with the goal of safeguarding newly-arrived Rohingya and host communities from the deadly disease.
WHO further said that 900,000 oral vaccine doses were set to be distributed among children under five, 650,000 of which during were to be distributed in an initial 10-day campaign, to be followed by a second round from October 31.