Myan­mar may es­cape in­ter­na­tional probe into al­leged atroc­i­ties

New Straits Times - - World -

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.

EPA PIC

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.

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