UN expresses shock over comments of Myanmar military chief

Published: March 27, 2018 21:14:26 | Updated: March 28, 2018 19:19:16

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed shock at recent comments of Myanmar’s military chief about citizenship of Rohingya people.

Recently Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said that Rohingyas “do not have any characteristics or culture in common with the ethnicities of Myanmar”.

The military chief also claimed the tensions in Rakhine were “fuelled because the Bengalis demanded citizenship”.

He also termed Rohingya activists as illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

On Monday, UN chief Guterres said in a statement that he was “shocked” at the comments.

Guterres urged all leaders in Myanmar to take a unified stance against incitement to hatred and to promote communal harmony.

“The Secretary-General reiterates the importance of addressing the root causes of the violence and the responsibility of the Government of Myanmar to provide security and assistance to those in need,” the statement said.

Though many Rohingya say their families have lived in Myanmar for generations, they are not among the 135 officially recognised ethnic groups and so are denied citizenship.

Several calls to a military spokesman seeking comment went unanswered, reports Reuters.

The army chief is an influential figure under Myanmar’s constitution, which obliges Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government to share power with the military.

Nearly 700,000 Rohingya people fled to Bangladesh since the military launched a crackdown in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state in response to insurgent attacks on security forces in August, according to UN estimates.

The United States and UN have described the operation as ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, which Myanmar denies.

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