Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Possible elements of genocide in Myanmar

Possible elements of genocide in Myanmar

The United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights says the mounting evidence of military-perpetrated atrocities against Rohingya Muslims could constitute global criminal law's most serious charge.

Addressing the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, Zeid said United Nations investigators have received "concordant reports of acts of appalling barbarity committed against the Rohingya" during a military crackdown in Rakhine state in August. Those who fled the violence did so voluntarily, some officials have said.

These included allegations of security forces "deliberately burning people to death inside their homes; murders of children and adults; indiscriminate shooting of fleeing civilians; widespread rapes of women and girls; and the burning and destruction of houses, schools, markets and mosques", he added.

Zeid, who has described the campaign in the past as a "textbook case of ethnic cleansing", was addressing a special session of the UN Human Rights Council called by Bangladesh. Ethnic cleansing is not recognised as an independent crime under worldwide law.

Myanmar does not accept its jurisdiction, meaning the UN Security Council's unanimous support would be needed to force an investigation.

Myanmar continues to bar United Nations investigators from the country, and Zeid al-Hussein acknowledged that prosecutions for such crimes were "rare".

The U.N.'s top human rights body has overwhelmingly passed a measure saying that crimes against humanity have "very likely" been committed against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

Officials at the United Nations have said they can not rule out the possibility of genocide being conducted against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by government soldiers.

The Human Rights Council voted 33-3 with nine abstentions on a resolution aiming to re-center the world's attention on the crisis that has left an untold number of people killed and injured and driven an estimated 626,000 Rohingya to flee into neighboring Bangladesh since August.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on November 23 to start the return of Rohingya within two months.

"More than 30,000 host community members now have access to safe water and sanitation services", he said.

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