Myanmar’s military must be prosecuted for Rohingya ‘ethnic cleansing’, UN told

UN secretary general calls for action and accountability to tackle on one of the worlds worst humanitarian crises

The UN secretary general has called for those behind the Rohingya crisis to be held accountable, urging the security council to act on what has become one of the worlds worst humanitarian and human rights crises.

Antnio Guterres was speaking with a heavy heart one day after the release of a report by UN investigators that accused Myanmars military of carrying out mass killings and gang rapes with genocidal intent.

The UN report, released on Monday, called for the prosecution of the countrys commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and five generals. The crimes it cited after a long inquiry included murder, enforced disappearance, torture and sexual violence perpetrated on a massive scale.

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Cate Blanchett tells of atrocities against Rohingya children video

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, joined other security council members in calling for prosecutions, saying: The facts of the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya must be said, and they must be heard.

Without using the word genocide, Guterres said the UN report by independent experts found patterns of gross human rights violations and abuses committed by the security forces, which it said undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law.

Since the crackdown began a year ago, tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have died, and 700,000 have fled northern Rakhine state. Most are living in refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh. About 130,000 who stayed in Rakhine remain confined in camps with severe restrictions on their freedom of movement. They have extremely limited access to health, education and other essential services, and to ways of making a living, said the secretary general.

Myanmars de facto ruler Aung San Suu Kyi has not commented on the report.

A Rohingya refugee camp in Coxs Bazar, Bangladesh. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Gutteres also spoke of the horrific accounts he heard during his visit to Coxs Bazar in Bangladesh last month. One father broke down as he told me how his son was shot dead in front of him. His mother was brutally murdered and his house burned to the ground, he said.

He praised Bangladesh for its generosity but called for a global response to the crisis and international cooperation to ensure Myanmar is held accountable for its actions. .

Actor Cate Blanchett, in her role as goodwill ambassador for the UN refugee agency, told the security council nothing had prepared her for the extent and depth of suffering she saw when she visited camps in Bangladesh. Blanchett said she heard gut-wrenching accounts of torture, rape, people seeing loved ones killed before their eyes, and children thrown into fire and burned alive.

Antnio Guterres (@antonioguterres)

I cannot forget the stories I heard from Rohingya refugees. One father broke down as he told me how his son was shot dead in front of him. We will never give up on our work to alleviate their suffering & end this tragedy. My call to the Security Council: https://t.co/l84qZ6ajk3 pic.twitter.com/WDoPwRL5iF

August 28, 2018

Several countries, including the US, called for the military leaders accused of orchestrating the repression to be brought before international courts.

Haley and other ambassadors stopped short, however, of using the word genocide. Here in the security council, we must hold those responsible for the violence to account, Haley said.

A US state department spokesman said the US would decide whether genocide or crimes against humanity had been committed only after a thorough review of the available facts and relevant legal analysis.

Several other security council members joined the call for the perpetrators to be brought before an international tribunal, including Britain, France, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Sweden. They also called for a mechanism to collect and preserve proof of abuses.

But China and Russia, which as permanent members of the Security Council have veto powers, have said they prefer dialogue with the Myanmar leadership to resolve the conflict.

Guterres said an international humanitarian appeal for the crisis remained significantly underfunded, and more must be done to alleviate the threats from the current and impending monsoons.

He said it was clear that conditions did not yet exist for the safe return of Rohingya refugees and called on security council members to join him in urging Myanmar ensure access to UN agencies and partners.

A year has passed. This crisis cannot continue indefinitely, he said.

For the past year, the security council has limited itself to statements condemning the violence and demanding access for humanitarian aid, and for the right of those who have fled to return to their homes.

Myanmar has vehemently denied allegations of ethnic cleansing, insisting it was responding to attacks by Rohingya rebels.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this article

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/29/myanmars-military-must-be-prosecuted-for-rohingya-ethnic-cleansing-un-told

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