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U.N. Says Authorities, Locals In Myanmar Killed Dozens Of Muslims

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says her organization has credible evidence that dozens of minority Muslims in Myanmar were killed in the northern state of Rakhine.

Here's how Navi Pillay described what took place in a press release issued on Thursday:

"The United Nations has received credible information that, on 9 January, eight Rohingya Muslim men were attacked and killed in Du Chee Yar Tan village by local Rakhine. This was followed by a clash on 13 January in the same village in which a police sergeant was captured and killed by the Rohingya villagers. Following this, on the same evening at least 40 Rohingya Muslim men, women and children were killed in Du Chee Yar Tan village by police and local Rakhine. The information received by the United Nations has been shared with the Government."

Pillay is asking Myanmar's government to launch an investigation.

But, as The New York Times reports, when the AP first broke news of the massacre, the government of Burma, as the country is also called, has pretty much denied that such a massacre took place.

The Times adds:

"The Myanmar government has been criticized for its failure to aggressively investigate and prosecute the killings of Muslims ever since sectarian violence in June 2012 triggered a series of attacks across the country. But human rights groups say that with this latest round of anti-Muslim violence, the government now appears to be trying to cover up the problem.

"The area where the attacks occurred, northern Rakhine State, has been rived by tensions between its Buddhist population and a group of Muslims known as Rohingya, with frequent bursts of violence driving more than 100,000 Rohingya from their homes and leaving at least 200 of them dead. The majority of Myanmar's population is Buddhist, but Muslims outnumber Buddhists along the border with Bangladesh, a demographic trend that is partly behind the tensions."

If you remember,the U.S. has opened up diplomatically, since the government held democratic elections.

Still, the current government has remained mostly silent on the attacks against the Muslim minority. As the Times notes, that includes Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the former opposition leader considered a top contender for president.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.