Wed, Dec 06, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Genocide possible in Myanmar: UN

RIGHTS COUNCIL:Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein urged the UN General Assembly to help with criminal probes, and said Rohingya refugees should only go home if there is monitoring

Reuters, GENEVA, Switzerland

Rohingya Muslim children line up for aid supplies on Monday at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Photo: AFP

Security forces in Myanmar might be guilty of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority, the UN top human rights official said yesterday, adding that more were fleeing despite an agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh to send them home.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that none of the 626,000 Rohingya who have fled violence since August should be repatriated to Myanmar unless there was robust monitoring on the ground.

Myanmar’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador Htin Lynn said that his government was working with Bangladesh to ensure returns of the displaced in about two months and “there will be no camps.”

Zeid, who has described the campaign in the past as a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing,” was addressing a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva called by Bangladesh.

He described “concordant reports of acts of appalling barbarity committed against the Rohingya, including deliberately burning people to death inside their homes, murders of children and adults; indiscriminate shooting of fleeing civilians; widespread rapes of women and girls, and the burning and destruction of houses, schools, markets and mosques.”

“Can anyone — can anyone — rule out that elements of genocide may be present?” he said.

Zeid urged the council to recommend that the UN General Assembly establish a new mechanism “to assist individual criminal investigations of those responsible.”

Marzuki Darusman, head of an independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar, said by video from Malaysia: “We will go where the evidence leads us... Our focus is on facts and circumstances of allegations in Myanmar as a whole since 2011.”

His team has interviewed Rohingya refugees, including children in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, who recounted “acts of extreme brutality” and “displayed signs of severe trauma,” he said.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten, who interviewed survivors in Bangladesh last month, said: “I heard the most heart-breaking and horrific accounts of sexual atrocities reportedly committed in cold blood out of a lethal hatred of these people solely on the basis of their ethnicity and religion.”

Crimes included “rape, gang rape by multiple soldiers, forced public nudity and humiliation, and sexual slavery in military captivity,” Patten said.

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