Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Myanmar Military Atrocities Against Rohingya May Be Genocide

Myanmar Military Atrocities Against Rohingya May Be 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.

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

The use of the term genocide increases global pressure on Myanmar (also called Burma) and reflects deep concern at what the United Nations describes as decades of discrimination and violence against the Rohingya.

However, while ethnic cleansing is not a designated offence under worldwide law, genocide is the most serious of atrocity crimes.

He urged the council to request that the UN General Assembly set up a mechanism "to assist individual criminal investigations of those responsible".

But it is considered highly unlikely that China, a major investor and trading partner for Myanmar, would agree. In a report, United Nations investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity. Myanmar's army says it has been targeting Rohingya militants.

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.

Meanwhile, another Myanmar official has reportedly denied plans to hold any returning Rohingya in camps, following earlier reports that authorities were building large detention facilities for them.

The U.N. human rights chief says actions by Myanmar's government to "dehumanize" the Rohingya minority are likely to fan more violence and draw in communities from across the region.

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