Genocide against Rohingya 'may be present' in Rakhine says UN rights chief
06 December, 2017, 04:28
"Today the UN's top human rights body has sent the strong message to the government that the world will not turn away, it will not avert its gaze, it will not forget", Laila Matar of Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Speaking before a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the abuses against the Rohingya, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein condemned "widespread, systematic and shockingly brutal" attacks against the Rohingya, as well as decades of discrimination and persecution. He noted that Rohingya see themselves as a distinct ethnic group.
"Given all of this, can anyone - can anyone - rule out that elements of genocide may be present?"
Zeid, who has described the campaign in the past as a "textbook case of ethnic cleansing", said that none of the 626,000 Rohingya who have fled violence to Bangladesh since August should be repatriated to Myanmar unless there was robust monitoring on the ground.
"We express our gravest concern with recent events in Myanmar's Rakhine state and the violent, traumatic abuses Rohingya and other communities have endured".
His team has interviewed Rohingya refugees, including children in the Bangladeshi port city of Cox's Bazar, who recounted "acts of extreme brutality" and "displayed signs of severe trauma".
Bangladesh, which along with Saudi Arabia had requested the special session, meanwhile voiced disappointment that Tuesday's resolution was not adopted by consensus, given the severity of the crisis.
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With his government in the spotlight, the ambassador said the priority should be on returning displaced people to Rakhine.
He is urgently calling on the Myanmar authorities to put an immediate and absolute halt to the violence targeting the Rohingya. The predominantly Buddhist Myanmar government has long withheld citizenship from the Muslim minority group.
Marzuki Darusman, who heads a council-mandated fact-finding mission on Myanmar that has received no access to the troubled state of Rakhine where many Rohingya once lived, chronicled a litany of allegations including the rape of young girls - some burnt to death or with their throats slit - and the mutilation of victims.
Prosecutions for the violence and rapes against Rohingya by security forces and civilians "appear extremely rare", Zeid said.
Last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said his country held Myanmar's military leadership "accountable" for its crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority, adding that the US was "extraordinarily concerned" by the situation. "We maintain hope that it will be granted early in 2018".
But Myanmar's refusal to acknowledge the Rohingya "remains a stumbling block" for any negotiations, Bangladesh's ambassador said on Monday.
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