U.S. urges U.N. to hold Myanmar military accountable for ‘ethnic cleansing’

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at UN headquarters in New York, NY, U.S., January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday described Myanmar denials of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims as “preposterous” as it called on the U.N. Security Council to hold the military accountable and pressure leader Aung San Suu Kyi “to acknowledge these horrific acts that are taking place in her country.”

“Powerful forces in the Burmese government have denied the ethnic cleansing in Rakhine State,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Security Council.

“To make sure no one contradicts their preposterous denials, they are preventing access to Rakhine to anyone or any organization that might bear witness to their atrocities, including the U.N. Security Council,” Haley said.

Haley also called for the release of Reuters news agency reporters arrested for reporting on the massacre of Rohingya Muslims.

“We strongly call for their immediate and unconditional release,” she said. In a reference to Myanmar’s reason for detaining the journalists, Haley added, “On top of it all, they have the gall to blame the media.”

The Reuters special report, published last week, lays out events leading up to the killing of 10 Rohingya men from Inn Din village in Rakhine state who were buried in a mass grave after being hacked to death or shot by Buddhist neighbors and soldiers.

French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre also told the Security council that a massacre of Rohingya Muslims reported by Reuters could “constitute crimes against humanity.”

Myanmar has denied that ethnic cleansing has taken place.

Any push for U.N. Security Council action is likely to face resistance from council veto powers Russia and China, who both said on Tuesday the situation in Rakhine state was stable and under control.