COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh — The Latest on violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the flood of ethnic Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh (all times local):
The U.N. human rights chief says violence and injustice faced by the ethnic Rohingya minority in Myanmar, where U.N. rights investigators have been barred from entry, “seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Speaking at the start of a U.N. Human Rights Council session, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein denounced how “another brutal security operation is underway in Rakhine state — this time, apparently on a far greater scale.”
Zeid, a Jordanian prince, noted that the U.N. refugee agency has reported that 270,000 people have fled to neighboring Bangladesh in the last three weeks, and pointed to satellite imagery and reports of “security forces and local militia burning Rohingya villages” and extrajudicial killings.
He said Monday that he was “further appalled” by reports of Myanmar authorities planting land mines along the border.
“The Myanmar government should stop pretending that the Rohingya are setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their own villages,” he added, calling it a “complete denial of reality” that hurts the standing of a country that recently enjoyed “immense good will.”
The Dalai Lama says the suffering of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar would have inspired Buddha to help.
The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader said those who are harassing Muslims “should remember Buddha. I think such circumstances Buddha would definitely help to those poor Muslims.”
The Dalai Lama said he had also delivered this message to Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi several years ago at a meeting of Nobel Peace Prize laureates. He told reporters Saturday that the situation in Buddhist-majority Myanmar made him “very sad.” The comments were captured on video at the airport in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala, where he has lived in exile for decades.
While Burmese Buddhists in Myanmar also worship the Buddha, they follow a different religious tradition than Tibetans and do not recognize the Dalai Lama as their spiritual leader.
The Bangladesh government says it has offered a plot of land for a new camp to shelter Rohingya Muslims who have fled recent violence in Myanmar.
The violence has driven nearly 300,000 Rohingya to flee Buddhist-majority Myanmar, with many of them packed into existing camps or huddled in makeshift settlements that have mushroomed along roadsides and in open fields across Cox’s Bazar district on the border.
Bangladesh’s junior Foreign Minister Mohammed Shahriar Alam said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had 2 acres (.8 hectares) near the existing camp of Kutupalong “to build temporary shelters for the Rohingya newcomers,” according to a message posted Monday on his Facebook account.
He also said the government would be registering the new arrivals on Monday. Hasina is scheduled to visit Rohingya refugees on Tuesday.
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