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OVER 60 people are feared dead as a boat carrying Rohingya refugees to safety in Bangladesh capsized on Thursday, the UN migration agency said yesterday.
The tragedy struck as the UN security council was debating the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where the army has been burning villages, summarily executing residents and gang-raping women in what fleeing Rohingya say is an ethnic cleansing exercise.
Bangladeshi ambassador Masud Bin Momen told the council that violence in Rakhine had not stopped, despite government claims to the contrary.
"These atrocities attest that the Myanmar government is using arson to depopulate northern Rakhine and take over ownership of lands," he said.
With the arrival of over half a million Rohingyas in Bangladesh since August 25, he said his country was now hosting over 900,000 members of "this most persecuted minority in the world."
The US called for Myanmar officials to be prosecuted over the crimes, but Myanmar’s ally China claimed the situation was stabilising and that "many of the differences and antagonisms" in Rakhine state have been building up over a long time, meaning there was “no quick fix.”
Russia’s Vassily Nebenzia also claimed that "excessive pressure" on Myanmar "could only aggravate the situation in the country and around it.” Russia backed claims from the Myanmar army that Rohingya separatists are themselves burning the villages.
nThe Morning Star has received a letter of complaint from Myanmar’s embassy in Britain for its coverage of the ethnic cleansing operation in Rakhine state, expressing “disappointment” at “misinformation” spread about the country and arguing that calls for solidarity with the Rohingya comprised “promotion of human rights only for one community [which] is not only unrealistic, but also causing estrangement among the communities.”
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