UN Chief Urges Accountability For Myanmar’s Atrocities Against Rohingya

By Paul Eckert
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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Myanmar at UN Headquarters in New York, Aug. 28, 2018.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Myanmar at UN Headquarters in New York, Aug. 28, 2018.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for accountability for Myanmar’s "horrendous persecution" of Rohingya Muslims in a brutal 2017 military campaign, while the United States, Sweden and the Netherlands called on the Security Council to take action.

Speaking to the council on Tuesday, a day after the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar issued a damning report that called for Myanmar military leaders to be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya, Guterres said the investigator’s findings "deserve serious consideration by all relevant United Nations bodies."

"Effective international cooperation will be critical to ensuring that accountability mechanisms are credible, transparent, impartial, independent, and comply with Myanmar's obligations under international law," he said.

Sweden's deputy U.N. ambassador Carl Skau called for the Rohingya crisis to be referred to  the International Criminal Court in the Hague, the world's permanent war crimes tribunal, as Monday’s fact-finding report recommended.

"We believe it is time to move forward and we need to consult among council members on a resolution to this end," told the council, according the wire service reports.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, said the findings of a State Department investigation into Myanmar's Rohingya crisis are "consistent" with those of Monday’s U.N. report. The State Department report is expected to be released shortly.

"The report identifies one group as the perpetrator of the overwhelming majority of these crimes: the Burmese military and security forces," Haley said.

The State Department said it had not yet concluded whether it would apply the determination of "genocidal intent" that Monday's U.N. report used to describe the violent campaign that drove more than 700,000 Rohingyas into Bangladesh after attacks by a militant exile group on police and border posts.

'The world knows everything'

Reuters news agency quoted Haley as saying of 1,024 Rohingyas interviewed at refugee camps in Bangladesh, "fully one fifth" witnessed more than 100 victims being killed or injured. She said 82 percent had seen a killing, more than half had witnessed sexual violence and 45 percent had witnessed a rape, the agency said.

The U.N. report was issued just after the first anniversary of attacks on guard posts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Rohingya militant group, on Aug. 25, 2017, that triggered a campaign of violence by Myanmar forces targeting the Rohingya, including killings, torture, rape, and village burnings in Rakhine.

The Myanmar government has largely denied the national military’s involvement in atrocities against the Rohingya and has defended its activities as part of a legitimate counterinsurgency operation against ARSA. The U.N. report says ARSA “also committed serious human rights abuses” but says Myanmar’s military action was "grossly disproportionate to actual security threats."

Myanmar's U.N. Ambassador U Hau Do Suan on Tuesday reiterated his government refused to cooperate with the fact-finding mission and questioned the report’s “objectivity, impartiality and sincerity."

In the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam was quoted by Reuters as telling reporters that Myanmar’s predictable rejection of the U.N. report “does not matter. The world knows everything.”

Haley also told the council that the United States expects to see two Reuters journalists accused by Myanmar's government of illegally possessing official documents to be acquitted of all charges when the verdict is announced on Sept. 3.

Reporters Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone have pleaded not guilty to violating Myanmar's colonial-era Official Secrets Act. They told the court they were framed by police while reporting on the Rohingya crackdown.





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