UN: Ro­hingya face se­ri­ous threat of geno­cide re­cur­ring

The National - News - - FRONT PAGE - ARTHUR MacMIL­LAN

The head of a UN fact-find­ing mis­sion on Myan­mar said that “there is a se­ri­ous risk of geno­cide re­cur­ring” against the Ro­hingya Mus­lim mi­nor­ity still liv­ing in the coun­try.

“If any­thing, the sit­u­a­tion of the Ro­hingya in Rakhine state has wors­ened,” Marzuki Darus­man told the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly’s hu­man rights com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day.

Mr Darus­man said the mi­nor­ity still suf­fered dis­crim­i­na­tion, seg­re­ga­tion, re­stricted move­ment, in­se­cu­rity and a lack of ac­cess to land, jobs, ed­u­ca­tion and health care.

The gov­ern­ment of the Bud­dhist-ma­jor­ity na­tion has re­fused to recog­nise Ro­hingya as cit­i­zens or even as one of its eth­nic groups, ren­der­ing the vast ma­jor­ity state­less.

Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary be­gan a cam­paign against the Ro­hingya in Au­gust 2017 in re­sponse to an in­sur­gent at­tack.

More than 700,000 Ro­hingya fled to neigh­bour­ing Bangladesh to es­cape what has been called an eth­nic cleans­ing cam­paign in­volv­ing mass rape and killing, and burn­ing of their homes.

An es­ti­mated 600,000 re­main in Myan­mar.

The In­de­pen­dent In­ter­na­tional Fact-Find­ing Mis­sion on Myan­mar, which Mr Darus­man led, said in its fi­nal re­port last month that Myan­mar should be held re­spon­si­ble in

in­ter­na­tional le­gal fo­rums for geno­cide against the Ro­hingya.

“There is a strong in­fer­ence of con­tin­ued geno­ci­dal in­tent on the part of the state in re­la­tion to the Ro­hingya and there is a se­ri­ous risk of geno­cide re­cur­ring,” he said on Wed­nes­day.

“Myan­mar is fail­ing in its obli­ga­tions un­der the Geno­cide Con­ven­tion to pre­vent geno­cide, to in­ves­ti­gate geno­cide and to en­act ef­fec­tive leg­is­la­tion crim­i­nal­is­ing and pun­ish­ing geno­cide.”

Mr Darus­man said the fact-find­ing mis­sion handed 1,227 in­ter­views with vic­tims and wit­nesses of crimes against the Ro­hingya to an­other UN body, the In­de­pen­dent In­ves­tiga­tive Mech­a­nism for Myan­mar.

He said the ma­te­rial in­cluded “a list of more than 150 peo­ple sus­pected of in­volve­ment in sev­eral in­ter­na­tional crimes”.

Mr Darus­man called on coun­tries to sup­port the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the pros­e­cu­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court of al­leged crimes on the

Bangladesh-Myan­mar bor­der.

He also called for back­ing on plans for Gam­bia, on be­half of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Is­lamic Co-op­er­a­tion, to pur­sue a case against Myan­mar be­fore the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice for breach­ing the 1948 Geno­cide Con­ven­tion.

In the ab­sence of a re­fer­ral by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil of the sit­u­a­tion in Myan­mar to the

ICC, he said: “These ini­tia­tives are all the more im­por­tant.”

Mr Darus­man urged the as­sem­bly to also con­sider ad­di­tional mea­sures, in­clud­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of a tri­bunal such as that set up by the UN for crimes in Rwanda and the for­mer Yu­goslavia.

Myan­mar’s UN am­bas­sador, Hau Do Suan, said his gov­ern­ment did not recog­nise the fact-find­ing mis­sion, call­ing its views one-sided and based on “mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion and sec­ondary sources”.

He said the mis­sion ig­nored the sit­u­a­tion of the Hindu mi­nor­ity and other eth­nic mi­nori­ties in Rakhine state.

Mr Suan said Myan­mar took its ac­count­abil­ity se­ri­ously and that per­pe­tra­tors of all hu­man rights breaches “caus­ing the large out­flow of dis­placed per­sons to Bangladesh must be held ac­count­able”.

But Yanghee Lee, the UN’s in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tor on Myan­mar, told the as­sem­bly that an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion of in­quiry formed by Myan­mar’s gov­ern­ment “does not rep­re­sent a pos­si­ble end to this im­punity”.

“It has not pro­duced a sin­gle re­port after nearly 15 months,” Ms Lee said.

She urged the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to im­pose sanc­tions on com­pa­nies owned by Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary and on “its com­man­ders most re­spon­si­ble for se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tions”.

Ms Lee said there was no dis­cernible im­prove­ment in the hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in Myan­mar.

AFP

Ro­hingya refugee chil­dren near Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. The UN was asked to con­sider form­ing a tri­bunal to in­ves­ti­gate crimes against the Ro­hingya in Myan­mar

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