THE violence and injustice faced by the ethnic Rohingya minority in Burma “seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, the UN human rights chief has said.

Speaking at the start of a UN Human Rights Council session, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein first recognised the September 11 attacks anniversary then chronicled human rights concerns about Myanmar.

He also spoke about rights concerns in Burundi, Venezuela, Yemen, Libya and the US, where he expressed concerns about the Trump administration’s plan to dismantle protection for younger immigrants.

Loading article content

Zeid, who is a Jordanian prince, denounced how “another brutal security operation is under way in Rakhine state – this time, apparently, on a far greater scale”.

He noted the UN refugee agency says 270,000 people from Myanmar have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh in the last three weeks, and pointed to satellite imagery and reports of “security forces and local militia burning Rohingya villages” and committing extrajudicial killings.

“The Myanmar government should stop pretending that the Rohingyas are setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their own villages,” he said.

He called it a “complete denial of reality” that hurts the standing of the country, a country that had until recently – by opening up politics to civilian control – enjoyed “immense good will”.

“Because Myanmar has refused access to human rights investigators, the current situation cannot yet be fully assessed, but the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” he said.

Zeid said he was “further appalled” by reports that the Myanmar military is planting landmines along the border.

Aside from Myanmar, Zeid said the council should consider “the need to exclude from this body states involved in the most egregious violations of human rights”, although he did not specify the countries by name.

Human rights advocacy groups have cited Burundi and Venezuela in particular as countries with lamentable rights records that have seats on the 47-member rights council created by the UN.