The Geneva-based body agreed on Friday (Mar 24) to “urgently” dispatch a fact-finding mission to the Southeast Asian country, focusing on claims that police and soldiers have carried out a bloody crackdown on the Rohingya in Rakhine state.
The army operation, launched in October after militants killed nine policemen, has sent tens of thousands of Rohingya fleeing across the border to Bangladesh.
Escapees have given UN investigators gruesome accounts of security officers stabbing babies to death, burning people alive and committing widespread gang rape.
The reports have heaped enormous pressure on the one-year-old civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate who won global acclaim for her decades-long democracy struggle against the former military junta.
Her administration lacks control over the armed forces but has vigorously swatted back calls for an international investigation into the recent Rakhine bloodshed, disappointing rights groups.
On Saturday Myanmar’s foreign affairs ministry stopped short of pledging to block the UN-backed probe but said it “has dissociated itself from the resolution as a whole”.
“The establishment of an international fact-finding mission would do more to inflame, rather than resolve the issues at this time,” it added.
Myanmar’s government is carrying out its own domestic inquiry into possible crimes in Rakhine.
But rights groups and the UN have dismissed the body, which is led by retired general turned Vice President Myint Swe, as toothless and inadequate.
The recent crackdown is only the latest conflict to pile misery on the stateless Rohingya, who are denied citizenship and face brutal discrimination in the Buddhist-majority country.
More than 120,000 Rohingya have languished in grim displacement camps ever since bouts of religious violence between Muslims and Buddhists ripped through Rakhine state in 2012.
Most are not allowed to leave the squalid encampments, where they live in dilapidated shelters with little access to food, education and healthcare.