The United Nations human rights chief has said an act of genocide against Rohingya Muslims by state forces in Myanmar cannot be ruled out.
He listed alleged abuses against the Rohingya, including “killing by random firing of bullets, use of grenades, shooting at close range, stabbings, beatings to death and the burning of houses with families inside”.
The rights chief then asked: “Considering Rohingyas’ self-identify as a distinct ethnic group with their own language and culture – and [that they] are also deemed by the perpetrators themselves as belonging to a different ethnic, national, racial or religious group – given all of this, can anyone rule out that elements of genocide may be present?”
The use of the term genocide increases international pressure on Myanmar (also called Burma) and reflects deep concern at what the UN describes as decades of discrimination and violence against the Rohingya.
Genocide – an attempt to wipe a group of people out of existence in whole or in part – is a legally specific term understood by most to be the gravest crime against humanity.