February 23, 2018

Genocide against Rohingya can not be ruled out, says United Nations rights chief

06 December 2017, 01:42 | Winifred Adams

A local aid agency in the region also said the girls as young as 13 were being abducted that has seen a surge in trafficking

A local aid agency in the region also said the girls as young as 13 were being abducted that has seen a surge in trafficking

Diplomats and human rights groups said the council's special session, convened with unusually wide backing from council members and cross-regional support, underscored Myanmar's global isolation on the issue and the pressure on its rulers to alleviate the crisis.

Zeid 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 told the 47-member state forum in Geneva.

The UN rights chief called Tuesday for a fresh worldwide investigation into Myanmar's abuses against its Rohingya Muslim minority, warning of possible "elements of genocide".

With his government in the spotlight, the ambassador said the priority should be on returning displaced people to Myanmar's Rakhine state.

More than 6,20,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh since the Myanmar security forces launched an operation in the Rakhine state in response to the alleged attacks by militants on August 25 against 30 police posts and a regimental headquarters.

Instead, it issued a presidential statement calling on the Myanmar government to end the use of excessive military force and intercommunal violence that has devastated Rohingya communities during the military crackdowns.

Myanmar'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.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said the Human Rights Council had sent a strong message to the Myanmar government that the world will not turn away from the Rohingya crisis.

Tuesday's session was held at the request of Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, with the support of 33 council members and more than 40 observer states.

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.

Earlier on November 23, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a deal on repatriation after both the countries came to a consensus following a meeting between Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

The bench had observed that the whole issue of Rohingya Muslims has to be looked at from various angles like national security, economic interest, labour interest and also the protection of children, women, sick and innocent persons. But rights groups say the conditions are not in place to ensure safe, voluntary and dignified returns.

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.

Marzuki Darusman, the head of the United Nations fact-finding mission, told the council via video conference that his investigators had "not yet come to any conclusion on these issues".

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