World, Europe

UK to raise Rohingya issue at UN

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is currently in Myanmar on 2-day visit

20.09.2018
UK to raise Rohingya issue at UN

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he will discuss at the UN General Assembly what can be done to bring those who are responsible of inhuman atrocities targeting Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

Hunt’s comments came in Myanmar where he was on a two-day visit, a government statement said.

“I went to Rakhine State myself to see what had happened,” Hunt said.

“What is essential now is that the perpetrators of any atrocities are brought to justice, because without that there can be no solution to the huge refugee problem. We will use all the tools at our disposal to try and make sure there is accountability,” he added.

Hunt said he would “be going to New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly to discuss what we should do.”

He underlined that the U.K. could not “act alone” but “we need to act in concert with other countries - we are a believer in the international rules based order.”

“It’s incredible important for all of us that those perpetrators face justice,” he said.

Speaking on the first day of his visit, Hunt announced “additional support from the U.K. to gather evidence for the Rohingya victims who have suffered sexual violence from members of the Burmese military in Rakhine.”

“The United Nations fact-finding mission exposed terrible suffering in Burma, and in the face of such serious allegations, no country that considers itself humane can stand back and do nothing,” Hunt said.

“On the first day of his visit, Hunt met human rights defenders from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners and toured the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon,” the statement said.

Earlier this month Hunt told lawmakers that the U.K. is “committed” to make sure that the perpetrators of atrocities in Myanmar face justice and that he would raise the issues spotlighted by the latest UN Fact-Finding Mission report with Suu Kyi.

Hunt said “ethnic cleansing, in whatever shape and form, should not go unpunished” and “the perpetrators of these appalling crimes must be brought to justice.”

In August, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar called for the trial of Myanmar’s top military officials, including army commander-in-chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, at the International Criminal Court for committing genocide against Rohingya Muslims.

“It is very important in all our dealings with the Burmese regime, they understand that a line has been crossed,” the foreign secretary said following the UN report.

Rohingya persecution

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, entitled 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 houses were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

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

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.

The UN has 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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