Kofi Annan refuses to use 'genocide' to describe Rohingya crisis

Modified 7 Dec 2016, 8:44 am

Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan has refrained from using the word "genocide" to describe the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

Speaking to the BBC in an interview after visiting the Rakhine State, where the ethnic cleansing is alleged to be taking place, Annan said there is tension but not genocide.

"I think there are tensions, there has been fighting, but I wouldn't put it the way some have done," he said.

Annan was invited by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to oversee a commission looking into the situation in Rakhine State.

“The fear has heightened, but we need to find a way of breaking that down and beginning to encourage the communities to connect,” Annan told BBC.

He also advises observers to be “very, very careful” when using the term 'genocide'.

Tens of thousands of Rohingyas have been displaced, with refugees alleging cases of rape, torture and mass murders.

The Myanmar government has strongly denied these allegations.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak attended a rally last Sunday, calling on the Myanmar government to end the genocide against the Rohingyas, and this has raised controversy.

The event also caused diplomatic strains between Malaysia and Myanmar, with Myanmar citing the event as a violation of Asean’s non-interference policy.