Myanmar will allow international observers to inspect the site of the alleged killings of more than 40 Rohingya Muslims, a government spokesman said on Friday.
“They can have a chance to ask questions and inspect the area freely,” said Ye Htut, a spokesman for the office of Myanmar President Thein Sein.
He provided no further details and repeated the government’s denial of the reported incidents in the north—west of the country.
The United Nations earlier condemned two reported attacks by local Buddhists in Rakhine State on January 9 and 13, and called on Myanmar to investigate.
“I deplore the loss of life in Du Chee Yar Tan [village] and call on the authorities to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation and ensure that victims and their families receive justice,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.
Her office said it had “credible information” that on January 9 eight Rohingya Muslim men were killed in the village by Rakhine Buddhists.
On January 13, a policeman was reportedly killed by Rohingya villagers, prompting an attack on Du Chee Yar Tan village by police and Rakhine locals that killed at least 40 “Rohingya Muslim men, women and children,” Pillay said.
The Under—Secretary General of the UN Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos also said she was “deeply concerned,” about the killings of “many civilians and a policeman.” The state—run New Light of Myanmar newspaper on Thursday reported a policeman was missing in the area amid clashes between authorities and “mobs,” but government officials denied reports of a massacre.
“We could not keep it secret even if only three people died,” said Win Myaing, secretary of Rakhine State’s information department. “Now they say 40 people died, which is nonsense.” Win Myaing said he had visited the area. “They don’t have any evidence” he said by phone.
Ye Htut said it was “sad” that the UN had not asked their own staff and religious leaders in the area for information, and “issued these statements based only on the unconfirmed sources.” “Local Buddhists’ trust in the UN agencies may diminish as a result of these false assessments,” he said.
Sectarian fighting first broke out in the Rakhine state in June 2012, when Buddhist communities clashed with Rohingya Muslims, leaving 167 people dead and more than 135,000 people homeless.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group, who were denied Myanmar nationality and rights to own property and travel freely by legislation passed in 1982.
The government views the Rohingya as the descendants of Bengalis brought to the Rakhine by the British colonialists to work as labourers.