Myanmar Signals It Will Give Cold Shoulder to New UN Rights Investigator on Rohingya

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Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian attends the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor in the courtroom of the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, based in Leidschendam outside The Hague, the Netherlands, May 16, 2012.
Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian attends the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor in the courtroom of the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, based in Leidschendam outside The Hague, the Netherlands, May 16, 2012.

The United Nations on Tuesday announced the appointment of an American prosecutor as head of an independent team that will probe human rights violations in Myanmar’s volatile Rakhine state, focusing on atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims and other minority groups.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres named Nicholas Koumjian of the United States as the first head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, established by the U.N. Human Rights Council in September 2018 and welcomed by the General Assembly three months later, the U.N. said in a news release.

The mechanism has a mandate to “to collect, consolidate, preserve, and analyze evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011…,” according to a statement issued in September 2018 by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.

It must “prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings, in accordance with international law standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals.”

The panel also must report annually on its main activities to the Human Rights Council.

A previous U.N. fact-finding mission established by a Human Rights Council mandate investigated atrocities committed against the Rohingya in northern Rakhine state during a military-led crackdown in 2017 and in Kachin and Shan states where the Myanmar military is engaged in fighting with ethnic armed groups.

Its report issued in September 2018 presented extensive findings of serious human rights violations and abuses carried out against civilians primarily by the military, as well as violations of international humanitarian law in the three states.

The report also called for the prosecution of top Myanmar military commanders before The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) for ordering atrocities against the Rohingya during the crackdown that began in late August 2017 that killed thousands and drove some 740,000 members of the Muslim ethnic minority into Bangladesh.

Myanmar has largely rejected the U.N. report and those of international human rights groups. In late 2017, the government barred Yanghee Lee, the U.N.’s special envoy on human rights in Myanmar, from visiting the country to assess the rights situation after it deemed a previous mission report she issued was biased and unfair.

Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, secretary of the Myanmar military’s information team, noted that the country’s armed forces has set up its own inquiry board, a three-member panel that is reassessing deadly attacks on border guard outposts that sparked the crackdown and “other related incidents” in northern Rakhine. The panel began its work on March 18.

“We have announced that facts can be sent to the Court of Inquiry established by the Tatmadaw [Myanmar military] in order to avoid flaws and to be in line with international law.”

“Myanmar is a sovereign nation,” he said in response to the news of Koumjian’s appointment. “Both the government and the Tatmadaw [Myanmar military] had already stated that. We don’t have to repeat our position to the ICC.”

Myanmar’s government and military have denied the atrocities and defended the crackdown as a necessary measure to find members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army militant group who attacked the border guard stations.

‘Far from over’

Myo Nyunt, spokesman of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), said the political party disapproves of the new U.N. investigative mechanism.

“We have objected to the formation of the [U.N.-mandated] fact-finding mission from the very start, so we object to all the follow-ups,” he said.

“We don’t agree on any preparations based on one-sided information without systematic findings in both countries,” he said, referring to Myanmar and Bangladesh where hundreds of thousands of displaced Rohingya live in sprawling camps.

The Human Rights Council announced on March 14 that the independent international fact-finding mission is continuing its probe of serious human rights violations and abuses, including crimes under international law committed in Myanmar since 2011, due to little progress in the country’s human rights situation since the end of 2018.

“The human rights crisis in Myanmar is far from over,” said fact-finding mission chairman Marzuki Darusman, in a statement. “To the contrary, the fighting continues in Rakhine and in the northern states of Kachin and Shan, and tensions are escalating in other regions. Human rights violations have not stopped, nor are victims seeing justice.”

The mission will present its final report at the September session of the Human Rights Council.

Nandar Hla Myint, spokesman of the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) stressed that the investigation is one that should be dealt with inside Myanmar.

On March 22, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling on Myanmar authorities to end the violence and all violations of international law in the country, particularly in Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan states.

“The Rakhine issue is a domestic affair, and it has to be handled under domestic laws by the Tatmadaw, the government, and the people,” he said. “There are existing laws that enable [us] to resolve domestic affairs, so our party won’t accept any intervention in domestic affairs by portraying them as an international affair under the auspices of the U.N.”

Min Lwin Oo, a legal advisor at the Norway-based Asian Human Rights Commission, said a prosecutor from a country other than the U.S. should have been appointed.

“It would be better to assign other legal experts rather than ones from U.S. and European countries,” he said, offering as suggestions Brazilian legal scholar Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro and human rights attorney Tomás Ojae Quintana, who currently serves as the U.N.’s special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea.

“People from American, European, and Muslim nations, who are free from influence, would be more suitable for the position,” he said. “I think there could be bias, and it might not be fair if such an investigation team comes and investigates.”

Koumjian has more than 35 years of experience as a prosecutor, including almost 20 years of work in international criminal justice. Since November 2013, he has served as the international co-prosecutor for the extraordinary chambers in the courts of Cambodia, according to the U.N.’s news release.

Koumjian previously was a trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the deputy general prosecutor for serious crimes in Timor Leste, an international prosecutor in the War Crimes Department of the Prosecutor’s Office for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a principal trial attorney and senior appeals counsel in the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Reported by Kyaw Thu for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Nandar Chann. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Comments (1)

Sai Lin Kan

The UN was becoming the proxy organization of the OIC after the Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein was elected to the UN High Commissioner for the Human Right Office. The OIC had infiltrated the UN organization by its agent Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. The purposed of Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein elected to the UN High Commission for Human Rights Office was to manipulate and create destabilize in the Rakhine State using by the UN Human Right High Commissioner Office.

The UN must have investigated about the relation between the Islamic terrorist group the ARSA leader Ataullah Abu Ammar Junun and the OIC and former the UN High Commissioner for the Human Rights Office, Zeid Raid Al Hussein.

Who has created the ARSA terrorist group?

Who was the mastermind of the ARSA terrorist group attacking on the Burmese Border Guards and innocent civilians in 2017?

Who has advice the ARSA to attack the Burmese Border Guard Posts and Police Station timing with the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council meeting?

Why the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) did not denounce seriously on murdering of 100 innocent Hindu villagers (children, women and men) because they had refused to convert Islam religion faith?

The UN investigation was biased and the conclusion was based on Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s reporting that was fabricated and manipulated by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and his hand-pick the UN staffers. The OIC, the UNHCR staffs, NGO staffs and the ARSA had taught the refugee children and women how to answer and talk to the international reporters. The children talking about they were shooting from Helicopter when they fled to Bangladeshi border. It was totally lying because the Military didn’t use Helicopter when the Security Force went to find the Islamic terrorists in the villages. The ARSA had ordered the Bengali villagers to burn down their home before flee to Bangladeshi border when the UN was waiting for refugees.
The OIC and Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, though they can force the Burmese Government and the Burmese Military to accept the UN monitor a Safe Zone for the illegal Bengali migrants now in the refugee camps in Bangladesh by using the UN and the UN Security Council as well as the media.
Now the reputation of the OIC and former the UN Human Rights’ Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein was in tatters because they have created the homeless for the illegal Bengali migrants by creating the Islamist terrorist group the ARSA and attacked on the Burmese border guard Posts, Police stationa and Buddhist villages. Also, the Islamic terrorist group the ARSA was killing the Bengali leaders who opposed to them in refugee camps. The OIC dream of creation of the UN monitor a Safe Zone for Bengali Muslims in northern RAkhine state will be definitely fail because the Burmese peoples, Government and the Military will never accept creation of Safe Zone for illegal Bengali migrants and will fight off any foreign armed force invasion into Burmese sovereignty.
Burmese Government had announced and repeatedly told to the UN about the Burmese Government will resettle the Bengali Muslims in Rakhine State but they must proof their grandparents were born in Rakhnie State, Burma. The OIC and the UN did not want to accept the Burmese Government’s terms and conditions for resettlement program for Bengali Muslims from Refugee Camps because most of Bengali Muslims were moved illegally into Rakhine State not long ago from the Bangladesh and not as century as written by the media and also they are not the indigenous people of the Rakhine state as the UN declared.

The UN Chief was doing as what the OIC and the former UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told him. The UN reputation was in tatters because the organization was becoming proxy organization the OIC. The reputation of Burma and Buddhists are already damaged by the former UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. There will already be biased and no neutral investigation of Rakhine crisis because they have read the fabricated report from Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Buddhist Rakhine, Buddhist Burmese and the Burmese military were guilty before going to court. Burma is a sovereign country and Burmese people will not be tolerated foreign interfering in the Burmese domestic affair. Burmese Government is doing its best for those Bengali Muslim refugee resettlement in Rakhine State, but remember Burma was not the wealthy country. If the OIC wants to build homes for Bengali Muslims and then the OIC must build for all refugees including Hindus, Buddhists and Christians. The OIC wants to build only for the Muslim is not honest assistance to Rakhine state. We Buddhist believe in Karma. One day, the world sees the truth. Nothing can be hidden forever. Now the majority of Bengali refugees from Bangladeshi refugee camps want to come back to the Rakhine state, but the UNHCR and the OIC are stopping them to return to the Rakhine state, Burma. They lost trust in the OIC and Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein as well as the UN. If the UN wants to sort it out the Rakhine problem and then they give up discriminating against the Buddhist Burma and cooperate with Burmese Government and recognize former the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s report was in fact fabricated and do not let manipulate by the OIC and Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

P.S, I'll be very much appreciated if you do not edit it.

Apr 04, 2019 04:21 PM





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