Rohingya still in Myanmar 'living under threat of genocide'

UN report accuses Myanmar of 'denying wrongdoing, destroying evidence, refusing to conduct effective investigations'
Rohingya still in Myanmar 'living under threat of genocide'

Marzuki Darusman, chair of the United Nations' Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar, which has found that Rohingya in the country continue to suffer persecution. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI /AFP)

More than 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Myanmar face systematic persecution and live under the threat of genocide according to the United Nations.

In a damning report released Sept. 16, U.N. investigators said the deplorable living conditions of an estimated 600,000 Rohingya still inside Myanmar had worsened in the last year and continuing persecution had become a way of life in Rakhine State.

The report said the factors that “contributed to the killings, rapes and gang rapes, torture, forced displacement and other grave human rights violations” by the Myanmar military and other government authorities were still present.

“Myanmar continues to harbor genocidal intent and the Rohingya remain under serious risk of genocide,” the investigators said in the report to be presented Sept. 17 in Geneva.

The report said the country was “denying wrongdoing, destroying evidence, refusing to conduct effective investigations and clearing, razing, confiscating and building on land from which it displaced Rohingya.”

Marzuki Darusman, chair of the U.N.’s Fact-Finding Mission, said: “The threat of genocide continues for the remaining Rohingya. Myanmar is failing in its obligation to prevent genocide, to investigate genocide and to enact effective legislation criminalizing and punishing genocide.”

The mission, set up by the Human Rights Council last year, found “genocidal acts” in Myanmar’s 2017 clearance operations that killed thousands and drove more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee into Bangladesh.

It again called for the U.N. Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or to establish an ad hoc tribunal, as it did for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

It said it had a confidential list of more than 100 names, including Myanmar officials, suspected of being involved in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, in addition to six generals named publicly last year. 

A 'pattern of extreme violence'

Christopher Sidoti, an expert consulted by the mission, said: “The scandal of international inaction has to end.”

He said the military operations against the Rohingya in 2017, as exceptionally intense and brutal as they had been, were part of a bigger, longer, more general pattern of extreme military violence.

“Unless the United Nations and the international community take effective action this time, this sad history is destined to be repeated,” Sidoti said.

Myanmar has largely rejected the U.N. reports and those of international human rights groups, and it would not grant permission to members from the U.N. fact-finding mission to access to the country. 

U.N. Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee told the Human Rights Council Sept. 16 that Myanmar had “done nothing to dismantle the system of violence and persecution” against the Rohingya, who still lived in the same dire circumstances that they did before the events of August 2017.

She cited satellite imagery which revealed the development of “34 camps, the precise purpose of which was unclear,” but “they may be intended to detain the remaining Rohingya population and those who decide to return.”

Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and Myanmar’s military have long faced pressure from the international community over alleged atrocities against Rohingya in Rakhine.

A U.N. fact-finding mission report last August found that the military had committed four of the five acts constituting genocide against Rohingya. It therefore said Min Aung Hlaing and five other senior generals should be prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity.

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