Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, addresses the United Nations General Assembly September 19, 2017 at the United Nations in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari urged fellow leaders at the United Nations General Assembly to condemn Myanmar’s “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya people.
Comparing the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine province to the massacres in Bosnia in 1995 and Rwanda in 1994, the leader of Africa’s most populous nation declared: “The international community cannot remain silent.”
More than 420,000 people have fled violence in Rakhine, which Buhari said bears the hallmarks of a “state-backed program of brutal depopulation” targeting Rohingya on the basis of their ethnicity and Muslim religion.
“We fully endorse the call by the secretary-general on the government of Myanmar to order a halt to the ongoing ethnic cleansing and ensure the safe return of the displaced Rohingya to their homes in safety and dignity,” the 74-year-old leader said.
Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also urged Myanmar to halt its military campaign.
The 1.1 million-strong Rohingya people have suffered years of discrimination in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship even though many have longstanding roots in the country.
Myanmar’s second vice president, Henry van Thio, is to take the podium at the UN assembly on Wednesday after Nobel laureate and de facto Myanmar leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi declined to attend this year’s world gathering.