UN secretary general decries 'horrendous persecution' of Rohingya in Myanmar

A day after the release of an independent United Nations investigation into alleged human rights abuses carr...

Posted: Aug 29, 2018 9:58 AM
Updated: Aug 29, 2018 9:58 AM

A day after the release of an independent United Nations investigation into alleged human rights abuses carried out against Rohingya Muslims, Secretary General António Guterres on Tuesday called for the Myanmar government to be held accountable for "one of the world's worst humanitarian and human rights crises."

The report, released in Geneva on Monday, contains accusations of murder, imprisonment and sexual violence against the Rohingyas, carried out by the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, under the guise of a crackdown on terrorists, and against a backdrop of impunity that effectively placed military leaders above the law.

Antonio Guterres

Asia

Continents and regions

Government organizations - Intl

Human rights

Human rights violations

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations and national security

Military

Minority and ethnic groups

Myanmar

Political Figures - Intl

Refugees

Rohingya people

Society

Southeast Asia

United Nations

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against humanity

Crimes against persons

Criminal offenses

Ethnic conflicts

Genocide

International law

Law and legal system

Sex and gender issues

Sex crimes

Sexual assault

Unrest, conflicts and war

"I believe this report's findings and recommendations deserve serious consideration by all relevant United Nations bodies," Gueterres said at a meeting of the UN Security Council. "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."

US Ambassador Nikki Haley told her colleagues they "must hold those responsible for the violence to account."

But a representative from China said the United Nation should have a gradual and persistent approach.

"Given the current situation, the international community should cherish the hard-earned progress and the full understanding to the great difficulties faced by countries concerned," Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Wu Haitao said, "and continue to provide constructive assistance instead of simply putting pressure on them."

The meeting also featured an impassioned plea from famed actress Cate Blanchett, a UN goodwill ambassador for refugees who visited a Bangladesh camp. What she saw and heard were shocking, she said.

"There are no shortcuts. There are no alternatives. We have failed the Rohingya before. Please, let us not fail them again," Blanchett said.

Myanmar disagreed with the report.

"I would like to reiterate that we did not accept the mandate of the mission because we have our concern about the mission's impartiality," Myanmar Ambassador to the UN Hau Do Suan said. "Besides, I have serious doubt on the intention of the timing of the release of the report."

He said the government does not condone human rights abuse, and will take action, if there is evidence of such crimes.

The government is united with the people to achieve peace, he said.

"We shall seek reconciliation, but not retribution. Compassion, but not hatred. Integration, but not segregation," he said.

Government blames militants for violence

Monday's report called for Myanmar's military leaders to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

"Military necessity would never justify killing indiscriminately, gang-raping women, assaulting children, and burning entire villages. The Tatmadaw's tactics are consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats, especially in Rakhine State, but also in northern Myanmar," the report said.

Myanmar's military has repeatedly denied that it has deliberately attacked unarmed Rohingya. Instead, the authorities say it only targets Rohingya militants, mostly from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army insurgent group, which has launched deadly attacks on police posts.

Zaw Htay, a spokesman for Myanmar's presidential office, told CNN via text message that Myanmar's government has already formed its own Independent Commission of Enquiry to investigate reports of human rights violations in northern Rakhine State since August 25, 2017.

He said Myanmar's government had previously "disassociated" itself from the UN's fact-finding mission, referring to a position taken by Myanmar authorities due to concerns it would "inflame" rather than "resolve" issues.

US: 'Unspeakable crimes'

Guterres said he visited Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, where Rohingya refugee camps are located, last month and heard several stories of "horrendous persecution and suffering," including that of a father who saw his son shot dead in front of him.

"It is clear that conditions are not yet met for the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees to their places of origin or choice," Guterres said. "I ask members of the Security Council to join me in urging the Myanmar authorities to cooperate with the United Nations, and to ensure immediate, unimpeded and effective access for its agencies and partners. We must also continue to press for the release of journalists who have been arrested for reporting on this human tragedy."

Haley said the results of a US State Department report, in which investigators spoke to more than 1,000 Rohingya refugees, are consistent with the UN report.

"We are now all armed with the devastating eyewitness accounts of the Rohingya, which lead us to the following conclusions: Children, babies, women and men suffered unspeakable crimes. The attacks were planned, premeditated and coordinated. The perpetrator was the Burmese military and security forces," she said.

"The whole world is watching what we will do next, and if we will act," she added.

The report for the UN recommends the case be referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, or for an ad hoc tribunal to be created to investigate the actions of the accused perpetrators. Six military leaders are named in the report, including Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

More details of the UN's investigation and recommendations will emerge next month, when a fuller, 400-page report will be published.

Systematic campaign

The report by the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar concludes that human rights violations in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states "undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law."

In the past, the United Nations has called the alleged campaign of violence, including mass killings, rape and the burning of Rohingya villages by Myanmar government forces a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing," while UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee has said the attacks bear the "hallmarks of genocide."

The report says the actions of the military compare to previous examples of genocide.

The crime of genocide has never been tried at the International Criminal Court, which was established in 2002 as the world's first permanent war crimes court.

Complicating matters further is that Myanmar is not a member state of the court and the ICC therefore does not have automatic jurisdiction there.

Perpetrators of genocides in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda have been convicted through ad hoc tribunals -- the second option suggested in the UN report -- but these have often taken many years to conclude.

Either recommendation in Monday's report is likely to result in a yearslong process, with no guarantee of a conviction.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30674

Reported Deaths: 1107
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds248039
DeSoto157216
Madison129634
Jones112049
Neshoba98571
Rankin91612
Lauderdale90879
Harrison88610
Forrest86042
Scott77015
Jackson61616
Copiah60216
Washington5789
Leake57519
Holmes55141
Lee54718
Wayne54213
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51118
Yazoo5056
Leflore48651
Lowndes48312
Grenada4795
Lamar4567
Lincoln45434
Pike43112
Monroe39930
Lafayette3894
Sunflower3737
Attala35923
Covington3475
Panola3456
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
Adams31018
Simpson3103
Pontotoc2836
Tate27810
Chickasaw27618
Marion27511
Claiborne27010
Jasper2616
Noxubee2618
Winston2596
Pearl River25432
Clay24910
Marshall2263
Smith22011
Union2079
Clarke20624
Walthall2004
Coahoma1996
Kemper17814
Lawrence1741
Yalobusha1717
Carroll16411
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1312
Tippah13011
Calhoun1294
Hancock12613
Webster12510
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite892
George863
Tishomingo781
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn682
Perry664
Stone641
Franklin452
Sharkey350
Benton340
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4944152
Montgomery4021103
Mobile4005134
Tuscaloosa222642
Marshall170210
Lee135937
Madison13597
Shelby122723
Morgan10715
Walker91424
Elmore90314
Franklin88914
Dallas8799
Baldwin8469
Etowah72713
DeKalb7075
Butler62428
Chambers62427
Tallapoosa58869
Autauga58312
Russell5450
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4896
Limestone4810
Houston4794
Lowndes46721
Cullman4394
Pike4205
Colbert3916
Coffee3732
Bullock36810
St. Clair3662
Covington3547
Barbour3472
Escambia3376
Calhoun3325
Hale31021
Talladega3037
Marengo30211
Wilcox2908
Sumter28412
Dale2820
Clarke2736
Jackson2682
Winston2543
Chilton2392
Monroe2342
Blount2301
Pickens2276
Marion21913
Conecuh2047
Randolph2009
Choctaw19512
Bibb1871
Macon1859
Greene1838
Perry1701
Henry1323
Crenshaw1253
Lawrence1070
Washington1057
Cherokee857
Geneva790
Lamar751
Fayette681
Clay642
Coosa581
Cleburne361
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 97°
Columbus
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 102°
Oxford
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 91°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather