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19 December, 2017 12:29:16 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 19 December, 2017 01:09:05 PM
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Suu Kyi ‘may face’ genocide charge

Rohingya villages burned down despite repatriation deal with Bangladesh: HRW
Agencies
Suu Kyi ‘may face’ genocide charge

The United Nations' top human rights official has raised the prospect of Myanmar's defacto leader Aung San Suu Kyi facing charges over the deaths and expulsion of thousands of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, report agencies.  Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, says he would not be surprised if a future court found the military campaign against the Rohingya people amounted to genocide.

 

The UN has previously described the deaths and displacement of the Rohingya people as a text book example of ethnic cleansing. Earlier this month the human rights chief called for a criminal investigation. But now Mr Zeid says he cannot rule out the possibility of military and government leaders facing charges of genocide.

"Given the scale of the military operation, clearly these would have to be decisions taken at a high level," said the high commissioner. "The question of intentionality going back to the genocidal acts ... it's very hard to establish that because the thresholds are high. And that's why we continue to say that a court has to do this. But it wouldn't surprise me in the future if a court were to make such a finding on the basis of what we're seeing.

"Because of the organisation and planning that seems to have gone into this. We can infer that from the actions on the ground." What clearly rankles the UN human rights chief is that he had urged Ms Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar, to take action to protect the Rohingya six months before the explosion of violence in August.

He said he spoke to her on the telephone when his office published a report in February documenting appalling atrocities committed during an episode of violence that began in October 2016. "I appealed to her to bring these military operations to an end," he told me. "I appealed to her emotional standing… to do whatever she could to bring this to a close, and to my great regret it did not seem to happen."

Meanwhile, rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday said that Myanmar’s army burned down dozens of Rohingya homes within days of signing a refugee repatriation deal with Bangladesh, showing the agreement was a mere “public relations stunt”.

Citing analysis of satellite imagery, the HRW said buildings in 40 villages were destroyed in October and November, increasing the total to 354 villages that had been partially or completely razed since last August.

Dozens of buildings were burned the same week Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding on November 23 to begin returning refugees from Bangladesh within two months, HRW said in a report.

“The Burmese army’s destruction of Rohingya villages within days of signing a refugee repatriation agreement with Bangladesh shows that commitments to safe returns were just a public relations stunt,” said Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director, in the report, adding safety pledges for returnees could not be taken seriously.

Deadly attacks by Rohingya insurgents on August 25 prompted a ferocious military crackdown on the Muslim minority living in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine state. More than 655,000 of them have fled across the border to Bangladesh since then, bringing horrific accounts of rape, extrajudicial killing and arson.

The US and United Nations have described the process as ethnic cleansing. The UN rights chief has suggested the operation contains “elements of genocide”. Responding to international pressure, Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government inked an agreement with Bangladesh in late November to start the repatriation of Rohingya refugees within two months. But HRW said it was difficult to believe this could be carried out responsibly.

“Myanmar is playing the most cynical of games, with Aung San Suu Kyi and her team signing a refugee repatriation deal that contains no real guarantees of protection to returnees, while on the ground the security forces continue their campaign of torching the villages the Rohingya want to return to,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of HRW’s Asia division, told AFP. Aid groups have said they will boycott any new camps set up in northern Rakhine. Last week the group Doctors Without Borders released a survey which found that nearly 7,000 Rohingya had been killed in the Rakhine violence.

The military has put the number in the hundreds and denied targeting civilians or committing atrocities, while Suu Kyi said major security operations stopped in early September. Myanmar has in the past blamed fires in villages on insurgents. “I am not sure of the number of villages” affected, government spokesman Zaw Htay told AFP, without providing additional comment on the HRW report.

MK

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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