Burma’s government has dismissed the United Nations’ claims the country’s security services have committed crimes against humanity in Rohingya-dominated areas of the country as “exaggerated”.
Last month, the United Nations issued a disturbing report outlining a campaign of human rights abuses in northern parts of the western state of Rakhine, close to the Bangladeshi border.
Babies and children have reportedly been slaughtered with knives amid “area clearance operations” the UN report said, with hundreds of people having been killed since October.
The Burmese government has repeatedly denied persecuting the minority Rohingya Muslim group, dismissing evidence of killings as “propaganda”.
Burmese leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was swept to power after a landslide 2015 election has not responded directly to the UN claims, but the BBC attempted to question her for a Newsnight report into the situation.
A spokesman for her party told the BBC reports of crimes against humanity were “exaggerated”, and added that the issue was “an internal affair”.
“Sometimes the United Nations is wrong”, the spokesperson added.
“As a new government we're just trying to achieve to a modern country. We have thousands of problems.
“We don't believe it's crimes against humanity. It's an internal affair - it's not an international affair.”
The UN’s report, which based its claims on over 200 interviews with refugees who had fled over the border to Bangladesh after attacks on a border post in October 2016, found that the counter military operations by security forces subjected the Rohingya population to brutal beatings, disappearances, mass gang-rape, killings and other human rights violations.
“The devastating cruelty to which these Rohingya children have been subjected is unbearable – what kind of hatred could make a man stab a baby crying out for his mother's milk. And for the mother to witness this murder while she is being gang-raped by the very security forces who should be protecting her,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
Ms Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, with the Nobel committee citing her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.
After boycotting Burma’s 2010 general election following decades of being frequently subjected to house arrests, she led the National League for Democracy party (NLD) to win the country’s first openly contested election in 25 years.
However, the 71-year-old iconic leader has since been accused of “legitimising genocide” in Burma, after failing to act to protect the Rohingya Muslim population.
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