WASHINGTON - The UN Security Council’s first open meeting on Myanmar in eight years highlighted the body’s deep divisions: China and Russia supported the Southeast Asian country’s government while the US, Britain and France demanded an end to “ethnic cleansing” of its Rohingya Muslim minority.
With the number of Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh since Aug. 25 now topping 500,000, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the U.N.’s most powerful body on Thursday to take strong action.
He also called on Myanmar’s authorities to immediately halt military operations, allow “unfettered access” for humanitarian aid, and ensure that all those who fled can return home.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley, using Myanmar’s former name of Burma, told council members: “We cannot be afraid to call the actions of the Burmese authorities what they appear to be: a brutal, sustained campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority.”
“The time for well-meaning, diplomatic words in this council has passed,” she said. “We must now consider action against Burmese security forces who are implicated in abuses and stoking hatred among their fellow citizens.”
Haley urged all countries to suspend the supply of weapons to the country’s military until its members are held accountable for the “brutal assault” on the Rohingyas.
The US, Britain and France were joined by many council members in demanding an immediate end to the violence and a strong council response.