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Rohingya continue to face genocide threat in Myanmar:UN

Fact-finding mission says military operations against Rohingya part of bigger, longer, pattern of extreme military violence

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 17.09.2019
Rohingya continue to face genocide threat in Myanmar:UN FILE PHOTO

ANKARA

The minority Rohingya Muslim community living in Myanmar are still facing the threat of genocide, a UN fact-finding mission has found.

In a report released on Monday, the UN fact-finding mission said the brutal military operations against the Rohingya in 2017 “are part of a bigger, longer, more general pattern of extreme military violence”.

The report also noted that 600,000 Rohingya remaining inside Myanmar face “systematic persecution” and live under the threat of genocide.

“The threat of genocide continues for the remaining Rohingya,” said Marzuki Darusman, Chair of the Fact-Finding Mission.

A year ago, he added, the mission created in 2017 by the United Nations Human Rights Council, had found “genocidal acts” in Myanmar’s 2017 “clearance operations” that killed thousands and caused more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee for their lives to Bangladesh.

“Myanmar is failing in its obligation to prevent genocide, to investigate genocide and to enact effective legislation criminalizing and punishing genocide,” Darusman said.

The new report will be presented on Tuesday to the UN Human Rights Council.

“Myanmar’s ethnic groups have a common -- but not identical -- experience of marginalization, discrimination and brutality at the hands of the Myanmar armed forces, the Tatmadaw,” the statement by the fact-finding mission said.

Torture and ill-treatment

Reflecting on allegations of Myanmar Army’s human rights abuses, the report said: “In an attempt to prevent civilian support to the insurgency [Arakan Army], the Tatmadaw [Myanmar Army] has cut the lifelines of ethnic Rakhine communities, restricting both people’s freedom of movement and humanitarian access so that many cannot make a living or get food.”

It added that suspected insurgents undergo “torture and ill-treatment” while sexual and gender-based violence by the Myanmar military “remains a prominent feature of the conflicts in Shan and Kachin States”.

The report carries interviews of nearly 1,300 victims and eyewitnesses conducted in the last two years from Rakhine, Chin, Shan, Kachin and Karen States.

The fact-finding mission called on the international community to demand accountability from Myanmar and “not to lose interest in continuing abuses there”.

Mission Expert Radhika Coomaraswamy said that shedding light on the grave human rights violations that are occurring in Myanmar is very “important but not sufficient”.

“Accountability is important not only to victims but also to uphold the rule of law. It is also important to prevent repetition of the Tatmadaw’s past conduct and prevent future violations,” she added.

Christopher Sidoti, another expert at the UN mission, said: “The scandal of international inaction has to end.”

Sidoti said the military has destroyed Myanmar, politically and economically, over the past 60 years.

“The peoples of Myanmar have suffered severely. The military operations against the Rohingya in 2017 -- as exceptionally intense and brutal as they were -- are part of a bigger, longer, more general pattern of extreme military violence. Unless the United Nations and the international community take effective action this time, this sad history is destined to be repeated,” he added.

Persecuted community

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and young children – brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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