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Myanmar: UN fact-finding mission calls on UN member states to remain vigilant in face of continued threat of genocide

Rohingya flee from Myanmar - FILE PHOTO

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The head of a UN independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar, Marzuki Darusman, told the General Assembly on 23 October that Myanmar is failing in its obligations under the Genocide Convention to prevent, to investigate and to enact effective legislation criminalising and punishing genocide.

Darusman spoke to the General Assembly at the request of the Human Rights Council. He said the mission’s findings are based on the fact that the policies, laws, individuals and institutions that laid the groundwork for the brutal “clearance operations” in 2016 and 2017 remain in place and strong.

Darusman said the mission found that crimes under international law, which were reported on last year, continue to be committed by Myanmar’s military, called the Tatmadaw, throughout the country, impacting Myanmar’s ethnic communities.

Serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law have been committed in both northern Myanmar and in the context of the continuing conflict between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army in Rakhine state.

“This confirms our previous conclusion that the cycle of impunity enables, and indeed fuels, this reprehensible conduct on the part of the security forces,” Darusman said.

The harsh persecution of the Rohingya community in Myanmar continues unabated in defiance of the international community. The treatment of some 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Rakhine state is largely unchanged.

Their situation has worsened as they endure another year subjected to discrimination, segregation, movement restrictions and insecurity, without adequate access to livelihoods, land, basic services, including education and healthcare, or justice for past crimes committed against them by the Tatmadaw.

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This makes the return to Rakhine state of close to one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh simply impossible, Darusman said.

Darusman took the opportunity of the fact-finding mission’s final report to the General Assembly to call on member states to remain vigilant. He said Myanmar had failed in its obligation to protect its people, making it all the more important that the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and the Security Council act to stop continued violations and prevent their re-occurrence.

He asked member states to prioritise three areas.

First, he asked member states to continue to authorise, through the Human Rights Council with the support of the General Assembly, public reporting mandates including the independent monitoring of the implementation of all the fact-finding mission’s recommendations.

Second, he asked member states to continue to pursue accountability, in light of what he termed a clear “accountability deficit” on the part of the Myanmar government and to mandate alternative accountability mechanisms, if needed.

Finally, he reiterated the mission’s previous calls for financial and political disengagement from Myanmar’s military to help deter human rights violations. He asked the General Assembly to consider endorsing disengagement, while recommending targeted sanctions and an arms embargo by the Security Council.

These measures are required as “the human rights catastrophe in Myanmar has not ended,” Darusman said. He concluded that the hundreds of thousands of victims rightfully expect no less than the continued commitment by the international community to accountability and justice.

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