UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed shock over Myanmar army chief’s reported remarks that Rohingyas have nothing in common with the country’s other ethnic groups. He has now called on the leaders to take a unified stance against incitement to hatred.
In a rather controversial remark recently, General U Min Aung Hlaing, during a speech to a military gathering in Kachin State, referred to the ethnic Rohingya community as “Bengalis”, according to a report in the Dhaka Tribune.
The report quoted him as saying that the “Bengalis do not have any characteristics or culture in common with the ethnicities of Myanmar. The tensions (in Rakhine State) were fuelled because the ‘Bengalis’ demanded citizenship.
In a statement issued on Monday by the spokesman, Guterres expressed shock at the reports of remarks attributed to Hlaing.
The UN Chief urged “all leaders in Myanmar to take a unified stance against incitement to hatred and to promote communal harmony,” the statement issued by Guterres’s spokesperson said.
He said such leadership is critically needed to advance institutional measures to combat discrimination and implement the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission.
“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, adding that it is critical that conditions are put in place to ensure that the
Rohingya are able to return home voluntarily, in safety and in dignity.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been driven into neighbouring Bangladesh since last August in the wake of a military crackdown in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state.