Myanmar may escape international probe into alleged atrocities
Myanmar looks set to escape an international investigation into alleged atrocities against its Rohingya minority, after the European Union decided not to seek one at the United Nations Human Rights Council, a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
The UN said in a report last month that the army and police had committed mass killings and gang rapes of the Rohingya in Rakhine state, and burnt villages in a campaign that may amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
Setting up a full international commission of inquiry into the findings — similar to those for Syria and North Korea — has been seen as a test of international resolve at the main annual session of the Council that ends on March 24.
The draft resolution from the EU suggests it may fail that test. The EU, which has historically taken the lead on issues relating to Myanmar on the Council, takes note of “the very serious nature of the allegations” and “current investigations conducted at the domestic level”.
But it stops short of the probe sought by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.
Zeid, in a renewed appeal on Wednesday, told the Council that the severe violations followed “longstanding persecution” of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar and warranted a review by the International Criminal Court.
“I urge the Council, at minimum, to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the violence against the Rohingya, particularly during security operations since Oct 9, 2016.”
Some 70,000 people have fled Rakhine State to Bangladesh since Myanmar’s military began a security operation last October in response to what it says was an attack by Rohingya insurgents on border posts in which nine police officers were killed.
The EU draft calls for the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, backed by Zeid’s office, to investigate “allegations of gross human rights violations by military and security forces” and try to “ensure full accountability for perpetrators”.
EU diplomats told a meeting on Tuesday that they preferred using an existing mechanism that had received good cooperation and access from Myanmar’s government, rather than a new approach, and to give more time to the domestic process.
But human rights monitors have voiced serious doubts that investigative commissions set up by the Aung San Suu Kyi government and its security forces had the tools and independence needed for an impartial probe.
Activists said security forces continued to carry out serious crimes demanding an international probe.
Rohingya women raising their hands at a ceremony to mark the International Women’s Day at a camp for internally displaced persons near Sittwe in Rakhine State on Wednesday.