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Rohingya, UN: the Burmese army guilty of ‘probable crimes against humanity’


Geneva (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) strongly condemns Myanmar for the “probable crimes against humanity” by security forces in the troubled state of Rakhine.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, urged the Council to request that the General Assembly establish a new mechanism to support criminal investigations against perpetrators of violence against the Rohingya Islamic minority.

The Myanmar army is accused of committing atrocities against Muslims residing in the western state of Rakhine, during two recent military operations: in October 2016 and last August. On the occasion of the latest ethnic violence, the military declared that they had operated to guarantee the stability of the region, threatened by the “Bengali terrorists” of the ’Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa). The leaders of the armed forces justify their management of the crisis by denouncing the brutalities of the Islamists towards the local ethnic groupsand the discovery of some mass graves where the members of the Arsa dumped the bodies of dozens of Hindus.

In September, Zeid called the Tatmadaw’s counter-offensive [the Burmese army, ed.] In the north of the state, a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. During the session held yesterday, he cited systematic discrimination against the Rohingya, segregation policies and recent allegations of murder. Added to these are knifings, beatings to death, arson attacks on houses with families inside, rape and sexual abuse, forced displacement and the systematic destruction of villages, houses and livelihoods.

The UN, the United States and other international bodies have already said that the operations of the Burmese army, which forced about 626 thousand Rohingya and other minority ethnic groups to flee from Rakhine, are equivalent to “ethnic cleansing”. The civil government of Myanmar, through the voice of the leader Aung San Suu Kyi has repeatedly rejected the accusations, denouncing “a huge iceberg of misinformation” and has launched some projects for the resolution of the emergency. Through the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, the initiative led by the democratic leader, Naypyitaw is committed to the implementation of the directives of the Rakhine Advisory Commission conducted by Kofi Annan. Furthermore, Myanmar signed agreements with Bangladesh for the progressive repatriation of refugees.

The resolution yesterday, requested by Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, received 33 votes in favor, nine abstentions, two absences and three against, including China. Beijing proposes a three-step solution to tackle the crisis: end the violence and restore the stability of the region, repatriate refugees and eventually develop long-term solutions for poverty in the state of Rakhine as the main cause of the conflict. The Myanmar ambassador in Geneva, Htin Lynn, declares that his government “dissociates” itself from the text and denounces what it calls “politicization and partiality”.

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