YANGON – The US labeling of a Myanmar army crackdown on Rohingya Muslims as “ethnic cleansing” is unhelpful and could aggravate the situation, Russia’s ambassador to the southeast Asian nation said on Thursday, criticizing “excessive external intervention.”
Rights groups have accused the military in mostly Buddhist Myanmar of carrying out mass rape and other atrocities during a ferocious military sweep launched in late August in retaliation for attacks by Rohingya Muslim militants in Rakhine State.
That drove 620,000 Rohingya refugees, many traumatized with gunshot wounds and burns, to flee to Bangladesh, joining hundreds of thousands who have sheltered there for years after previous spasms of violence in the former Burma.
The military operation amounted to “ethnic cleansing,” the United States said on Wednesday, echoing an accusation first made by top UN officials in the early days of the humanitarian crisis.
“I don’t think that it will help to solve this problem,” Russian ambassador Nikolay Listopadov told Reuters in an interview in Yangon, when asked about the US move.
“On the contrary, it can aggravate the situation, throw more fuel,” he said in English, citing concern over how the Buddhist community in Rakhine would react to such a designation.