By Canberk Yuksel
The U.S. envoy to the UN on Thursday urged the government of Myanmar to exercise restraint after reports of mass civilian deaths among the Muslim Rohingya population in Rakhine state.
“The United States supports democracy for the Burmese people, and we condemn attacks by militant groups in Rakhine State,” Nikki Haley said in a statement. Burma is the former name of the Southeast Asian state of Myanmar.
“However, as Burmese forces act to prevent further violence, they have a responsibility to adhere to international law, which includes refraining from attacking innocent civilians and assistance workers and ensuring assistance reaches those in need,” she added.
The statement comes after the Security Council held informal talks Wednesday over the violence. The talks ended without a formal declaration or message.
Fresh violence erupted in Rakhine state on Aug. 25 when the country’s security forces launched an operation against the Rohingya Muslim community.
It triggered a new influx of refugees through the country toward neighboring Bangladesh that hosts 400,000 Rohingya and has sealed off its border to the refugees.
The region has seen simmering tension between its Buddhist and Muslim populations since communal violence broke out in 2012.
A security crackdown launched last October in Maungdaw, where Rohingya make up the majority, led to a UN report on human rights violations by security forces that indicated crimes against humanity.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including babies and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances. Rohingya representatives have said approximately 400 victims were slain during the crackdown.