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Nigeria urges end to ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Myanmar

Government says situation in Myanmar is reminiscent of what happened in Rwanda and Bosnia

Nigeria urges end to ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Myanmar

By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS, Nigeria

Nigeria has condemned the "ethnic cleansing" in Myanmar, calling on the UN to invoke the principle of "responsibility to protect" to rein in the security operations that have led to the forced displacement of Rohingya Muslims.

“The Federal Government condemns the horrendous human suffering caused by what is now confirmed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in his statement to be a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing’ of the Rohingya people,” the Nigerian government said in a statement on Tuesday.

The government said the situation in Myanmar was a “reminiscence” of what happened in Rwanda and Bosnia -- where acts of genocide were committed, respectively in 1994 and 1995.

Nigeria urged UN member countries to condemn the bloodshed in Myanmar and join efforts to end the violence and create conditions conducive for peaceful and safe return of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees.

An estimated 370,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar since Aug. 25, according to the UN.

The refugees are fleeing a fresh security operation in which they have said security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.

According to Bangladesh, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

Nigeria addresses issue for 1st time

Turkey has been at the fore of providing aid to Rohingya refugees and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will raise the issue at the UN.

Nigeria, which is considered a Muslim majority country with an estimated 100 million people -- slightly more than half of the country's estimated 180 million, the largest population on the African continent -- addressed the issue for the first time on Tuesday since the security crackdown began late August.

Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine’s Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel.

In a report, UN investigators said the human rights violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Over the weekend, the country's apex Muslim umbrella body, the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, also called the development in Myanmar “crimes against humanity”.

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