August 17, 2018

Myanmar facing ICC referral unless 'proper' Rakhine probe conducted

03 May 2018, 06:22 | Rodolfo Wallace

UN Envoys Want 'Proper' Probe of Atrocities Against Rohingya in Myanmar's Rakhine State

UN Security Council members Mansour Ayyad Al Otaibi from Kuwait Gustavo Meza Cuadra from Peru Joanna Wronecka from Poland and Karen Pierce from Great Britain speak at a press conference in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw

That investigation led to a United States declaration of genocide and the imposition of economic sanctions against the Sudanese government, the news agency said.

Bangladesh's acting foreign secretary, M. Khurshed Alam, said the delegation's visit is "very significant", with global pressure on Myanmar continuing to mount to ensure the safe and voluntary return of the refugees, who are seeking protection from the United Nations.

She called for the "root causes" of the crisis - which has seen hundreds of thousands of Rohingya flee Myanmar for neighbouring Bangladesh as a result of what the United Nations has described as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing" by government security forces - to be addressed.

Cox's Bazar - A UN Security Council delegation arrived in Bangladesh on Saturday to get a firsthand look at the plight of some 700 000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar to escape military-led violence.

There were two ways to establish a full probe, "one is an ICC (International Criminal Court) referral", she said.

An ICC prosecutor asked the global tribunal in April to rule on whether the court can exercise jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of the Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh, even though Myanmar is not a member of the ICC.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a bilateral agreement last November that recognised the need for a long-lasting and comprehensive solution to the crisis and the voluntary return of refugees under worldwide law.

"The situation can not remain without a solution and the message that we are conveying to Myanmar, to refugees themselves, to the rest of the world, is that we are determined to find a solution to this crisis", al-Otaibi said.

The move came as a delegation of diplomats from the U.N. Security Council visited the country this week to see developments on the ground in conflict-torn Rakhine.

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Myanmar's duplicity regarding the Rohingya refugee crisis is further evidenced by their army's utter denial of the atrocious crimes committed by their officers, such as that of rape. "What we really want is to speed up the process of the return of refugees in a safe and voluntary and dignified manner", he added.

UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations Karen Pierce said the U.N. Security Council was ready to assist the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh in solving the refugee crisis.

He also pointed out that numerous Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, already living in poor and crowded conditions, face further misery with the early onset on the monsoon season, with a strong risk of landslides and flooding.

"I told them that Myanmar needs positive help from the worldwide community", he told RFA's Myanmar Service after the meeting. "But they said nothing in response", he told The Irrawaddy.

"It will be for food, shelter and health services in the lead-up to the monsoon season", Ms Bishop said.

"We already have hope for this case", said Khin Maung Zaw.

From Sittwe, capital of the Rakhine state, the team flew by helicopter to visit two villages, one transit center and one reception camp, where refugees who return will initially be housed, he said.

During separate meetings with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyidaw, the UNSC team raised the need for an independent inquiry into the military clearance operation that have seen it accused of atrocities, killing, rape, other sexual violence and destruction of scores of villages in Rakhine.

While the UNSC visit represents a slight thawing in relations between the global body and Myanmar, the brief tour will have limited time and access to assess the situation. In the a year ago, despite an ostensible transition toward democratic rule under de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's government has intensified arrests and prosecutions of journalists.

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