The violence targeting Myanmar's Muslim minority "amounts to ethnic cleansing," a U.K. parliament report has stated.
"The violence against the Rohingya in Northern Rakhine in Burma … may also constitute crimes against humanity and even genocide," the report by parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee said.
The report called Violence in Rakhine State and the U.K.'s response was released yesterday. It described a lack of effort to recognize the violence by the U.K. government and internationally.
"The U.K. government's equivocation over classifying this violence has ... been frustratingly confusing," it said. "It has also failed to undertake its own legal analysis. This was not befitting its leading international role, and it should immediately investigate and conduct its own assessment of the situation."
The report said "the U.K. government should take a more hard-headed approach based on the new understanding of the political trajectory in the country and the limits of Aung San Suu Kyi's leadership or ability, or willingness, to speak out."
It also underlined that the "Commander in Chief of the Burmese security forces, General Min Aung Hlaing, bears ultimate responsibility for the violence."
"There appears to be widespread agreement that grave human rights violations have occurred during this crisis, but we heard a variety of views on how this violence should be understood and defined, with some suggesting that the security forces' abuses against the Rohingya amounted to ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, or even genocide," it said to describe the level of violence targeting the Muslims.
The report by the cross-party group of lawmakers said its members were "surprised that the U.K. government's response to questions about this violence were not clear and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) was reluctant to commit to a definition."
"If atrocity crimes have taken place, these certainly cannot be redressed through repatriation and must be addressed in court to ensure perpetrators are held to account."
Lawmakers were concerned the FCO "has not undertaken its own analysis of the situation" and urged it to "immediately ... send an expert team to gather evidence on sexual violence in conflict and other possible atrocity crimes; conduct a review of the situation and respond to the Committee as to how it will ... guide its policy on the Rakhine crisis, including in assessing whether to pursue a referral to the International Criminal Court."
The Rohingya, described by the U.N. as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Since Aug. 25, over 625,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN. The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes, and torched Rohingya villages.
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