– The UN human rights chief on Tuesday condemned “widespread, systematic and shockingly brutal” attacks against the Rohingya, as well as decades of discrimination and persecution.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged a Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council on the current situation of the minority Rohingya Muslim population in northern Rakhine State “to take the appropriate action to stop this madness now”. He asked, “How much do people have to endure before their suffering is acknowledged and their identity and rights are recognised, by their government and by the world?”
High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
The High Commissioner urged the Council to consider making a recommendation to the UN General Assembly that it establish a new impartial and independent mechanism, complementary to the work of the Fact-Finding Mission into the latest wave of violence and abuses, to assist individual criminal investigations of those responsible.
He said that given the decades of statelessness imposed on the Rohingya, policies of dehumanising discrimination and segregation, and the horrific violence and abuse, along with the forced displacement and systematic destruction of villages, homes, property and livelihoods – “can anyone rule out that elements of genocide may be present?”
“Ultimately, this is a legal determination only a competent court can make,” he told the Council. “But the concerns are extremely serious, and clearly call for access to be immediately granted for further verification.”
By 2 December, an estimated 626,000 refugees – or more than half the estimated number of Rohingya living in Rakhine State – had fled to Bangladesh since October 2016, and particularly since August 2017. The Myanmar Government has said its latest campaign in northern Rakhine was in response to attacks by insurgents.
Zeid said his Office had sent three teams to Bangladesh this year to monitor the situation and interview refugees. He added that he had reported to both the Human Rights Council and the Security Council about the persistent allegations of serious human rights violations by security forces. Yet, he added, prosecutions for alleged acts of violence against them, including sexual violence – whether committed by security forces or civilians – appeared to be extremely rare.
“Refusal by international as well as local actors to even name the Rohingyas as Rohingyas – to recognise them as a community and respect their right to self-identification – is yet another humiliation, and it creates a shameful paradox: they are denied a name, while being targeted for being who they are,” he added.
[Image credit:UNHCR file photo UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein]
WAM/MOHD AAMIR/Nour Salman
, Civil Society Newswire, Middle East, English