Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

United Nations says Myanmar might be guilty of Rohingya genocide

United Nations says Myanmar might be guilty of Rohingya genocide

Marzuki Darusman, who heads a council-mandated fact-finding mission on Myanmar that has received no access to the troubled state of Rakhine where many Rohingya once lived, chronicled a litany of allegations including the rape of young girls - some burnt to death or with their throats slit - and the mutilation of victims. On a recent visit to Myanmar, Pope Francis did not publicly use the word "Rohingya" - and drew criticism for that decision.

Al Jazeera reported that the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has communicated that the mounting evidence of military-perpetrated atrocities against the Muslim-majority group could constitute to genocide.

Bangladesh also denies they are its citizens.

The plan was approved by Bangladesh's Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, on November 28 and the same day Amnesty International called upon the Bangladeshi government to abandon the proposal, calling it a "terrible mistake". He noted that Rohingya see themselves as a distinct ethnic group.

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The island is about 30,000 hectares (about 74,000 acres) in size, more than 37 miles from the mainland, officially uninhabited and mostly flooded during heavy rain or monsoon season, District Forest Officer Amir Hossain Chowdhury told CNN in January.

Rights groups widely hailed the resolution. Eventually, the government plans to build almost 1,500 barrack houses and 120 shelter centers on 60 hectares (150 acres) of land on the island.

Marzuki Darusman, head of an independent worldwide fact-finding mission on Burma, said by video from Malaysia: "We will go where the evidence leads us".

"Given all of this, can anyone rule out that elements of genocide may be present?"

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Rohingya refugees arriving in Bangladesh in September.

Addressing a special session of the Human Rights Council on December 5, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein described "widespread, systematic and shockingly brutal attacks against the Rohingya community" that "deliberately and massively targeted civilians", and enumerated actions "warranting the attention of the International Criminal Court" that have been perpetrated against the Rohingya by Myanmar's security forces and local militia.

He added that it's up to a court to determine whether genocide has taken place.

The UN first defined it in the in 1948. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan endorsed that legal position in 2004.

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While Myanmar claims that its "clearance" operations are meant to root out terrorists, displaced Rohingya say that the military is indiscriminately targeting civilians, including children, with human rights groups documenting accounts of extrajudicial killings, arson, and sexual violence. On the other hand, Myanmar government has refused to recognise Rohingya as one of the country's ethnic minorities and described them as Bengalis or illegal immigrants from neighbouring country- Bangladesh.

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