Rohingya crisis: United Nations human rights chief calls for criminal investigation
Dec 06 2017 by Kathy Alvarado
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, U.N. high commissioner for human rights, urged the Geneva-based Council to recommend that the U.N. General Assembly establish a new mechanism for assisting with criminal investigations of perpetrators of violence against Rohingya Muslims.
The U.N. human rights chief says actions by Myanmar's government to "dehumanize" the Rohingya minority are likely to fan more violence and draw in communities from across the region.
Given this, Zeid asked the 47-member body how anyone could rule out that elements of genocide might be present.
The top United Nations human rights official is condemning the persecution, and widespread and systematic brutal attacks against the Rohingya in Myanmar, suggesting this treatment might verge on genocide.
Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement on November 23 for Rohingya living in camps to voluntarily return to northern Rakhine - a process that Myanmar has said will get under way within two months.
The government of the Buddhist-majority country should not only carry out its plan to repatriate the Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh, but it should also grant citizenship to the largely stateless and marginalized group.
He is urgently calling on the Myanmar authorities to put an immediate and absolute halt to the violence targeting the Rohingya.
The country's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Htin Lynn, did not address those accusations, but insisted to the council that the humanitarian situation at its border with Bangladesh was of "paramount concern", and that Yangon was "making every effort to resolve the issue".
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Al Hussein said his office has visited and interviewed Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh three times this year. Witnesses reported acts of appalling barbarity committed against the Rohingyas, 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.
The Council voted 33-3 with nine abstentions on a resolution aiming to re-center the world's attention on the crisis that has left an untold number of people killed and injured and driven an estimated 626,000 Rohingya to flee into neighboring Bangladesh since August.
Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh's junior foreign affairs minister, told the session in Geneva that his country was hosting almost one million "Myanmar nationals" following executions and rapes.
"This is crucial to lay the groundwork for accountability for atrocities against Rohingya women, men and children, as well as to ensure the voluntary, safe and dignified return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees".
He also urged providing the Rohingya Muslims with humanitarian and relief assistance and reconstructing areas destroyed by state authorities in Myanmar.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday will resume the hearing on deportation of Rohingyas to Myanmar after the centre had called the immigrant refugees a threat to national security.
But Myanmar has refused to cooperate and has blocked access to the team of investigators, who have begun their work outside the country.
Marzuki Darusman, head of the independent global fact-finding mission, said by video from Malaysia: "We will go where the evidence leads us".