2016-12-30 15:26:00

Nobel laureates urge U.N. Security Council to end violence in Myanmar ‎

More than a dozen Nobel laureates including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai urged  ‎the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to end "ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity" in ‎Myanmar's troubled Rakhine State.   At least 86 people have been killed in a military crackdown in ‎Rakhine State, launched after attacks on police posts near the border with Bangladesh on Oct. 9.‎

The government of predominantly Buddhist Myanmar has blamed Muslim Rohingyas supported by ‎foreign militants for the coordinated attacks which killed nine police officers.  More than 30,000 people ‎have fled to Bangladesh, escaping the violence which has renewed international criticism that Aung ‎San Suu Kyi's government has done too little to help the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in ‎Myanmar.‎

In an open letter to the Security Council, Tutu and 22 others including fellow Nobel Peace laureates ‎José Ramos-Horta and Muhammad Yunus said a "human tragedy amounting to ethnic cleansing and ‎crimes against humanity is unfolding in Myanmar".  "If we fail to take action, people may starve to ‎death if they are not killed with bullets," the letter said. The violence had the hallmarks of Rwanda's ‎‎1994 genocide as well as ethnic cleansing in Sudan's western Darfur region, Bosnia and Kosovo, it said.‎

The signatories to the letter said even if a group of Rohingyas was behind the Oct. 9 attacks, the army's ‎response had been "grossly disproportionate".  "It would be one thing to round up suspects, interrogate‎ them and put them on trial," the letter said.  "It is quite another to unleash helicopter gunships on ‎thousands of ordinary civilians and to rape women and throw babies into a fire."‎

Myanmar's government has denied accusations that excessive military force was used following the ‎October attacks.  ‎ (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)

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