Genocide threat for Myanmar’s Rohingya greater than ever, investigators warn Human Rights Council

IOM/Mohammed Rohingya refugees fleeing conflict and persecution in Myanmar.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya who remain in Myanmar may face a greater threat of genocide than ever, amid Government attempts to “erase their identity and remove them from the country”, UN-appointed independent investigators said on Monday.

In a report detailing alleged violations in Myanmar over the last year, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission, insists that many of the conditions that led to “killings, rapes and gang rapes, torture, forced displacement and other grave rights violations” by the country’s military, that prompted some 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh in 2017, are still present.

Citing the lack of accountability for the perpetrators of these alleged crimes, as well as the failure by Myanmar “to investigate genocide and to enact effective legislation criminalizing and punishing genocide”, the UN-appointed independent panel concludes “that the evidence that infers genocidal intent on the part of the State…has strengthened, that there is a serious risk that genocidal actions may occur or recur”.

Echoing those findings, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee told the Human Rights Council earlier on Monday that Myanmar had “done nothing to dismantle the system of violence and persecution” against the Rohingya who live in the “same dire circumstances that they did, prior to the events of August 2017”.

Citing satellite imagery of destroyed Rohingya villages, Ms. Lee questioned Myanmar’s assertion that it rebuilt areas affected by the violence, given that there were “six military bases that have been built on the site of destroyed Rohingya villages”.

Of nearly 400 Rohingya villages apparently destroyed, “there has been no attempt to reconstruct 320 of them”, the Special Rapporteur noted, and four in 10 villages had been “completely razed to the ground”.

Some of that demolition occurred in 2018 and some even in 2019 “and all of this is completely antithetical to the claim that Myanmar is ready to receive the refugees (back from Bangladesh)”, Ms. Lee insisted.

600,000 Rohingya ‘remain the target’ of Myanmar authorities

According to the International Fact-Finding Mission’s near 200-page report, the abuses it found were not on the same scale as the “clearance operations” conducted against Rohingya communities in the summer of 2017.

Nonetheless, the 600,000 mainly-Muslim Rohingya still in Myanmar “remain the target” of Government efforts to remove them from the country, the expert panel insisted.

The threats the Rohingya minority face include a “continuation of hate speech” and discrimination that affects their ability to work, attend school, seek medical care “or even pray and congregate”, the report notes.

Ongoing gross rights violations still occurring, says rights investigator

Echoing those comments, Ms. Lee insisted that Myanmar “continues to be a State that commits ongoing gross violations of international law”.

Humanitarian access remains severely restricted by the State, she went on, and all those involved in the violence – among them, the Tatmadaw State military and the Arakan separatist army – have been responsible for “indiscriminate…heavy artillery fire, gunfire and landmines in civilian areas” linked to the displacement of some 65,000 people across northern Rakhine and southern Chin states since January.

Highlighting information about “reprisals, surveillance and harassment” of people in Myanmar and outside the country who have cooperated with international human rights mechanisms, Ms. Lee urged the international community to continue to scrutinize events in Myanmar.

“The parties to the conflict must end their hostilities – the people of Rakhine have suffered enough,” she insisted.

In addition to reports of up to six villages being burned deliberately since the end of June, the Special Rapporteur also noted with concern that the Government-imposed internet blackout has been in place for nearly three months in Kyauktaw, Minbya, Ponnagyun and Mrauk-U, “where the worst fighting is happening”.

Conflict escalated on 15 August when separatists launched attacks in northern Shan and Mandalay, Ms. Lee explained, “killing and injuring soldiers, police officers, and civilians”. This sparked intense fighting between the Tatmadaw State military and the ethnic armed organizations in northern Shan which led to the death of a farmer killed when Tatmadaw “reportedly fired mortars into his village as people were fleeing military helicopters conducting air strikes nearby”.

Ceasefires welcomed but peace talks still in doubt

While welcoming the separatists’ unilateral ceasefire declared last week ahead of peace talks with the Government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Commission scheduled for Tuesday, Ms. Lee questioned whether the Tatmadaw were serious about bringing about peace after launching operations against Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) separatists – despite also saying that they were laying down their weapons.

In a related development, UN-appointed independent human rights experts expressed serious concerns on Monday about new restrictions at Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, following a massive “Genocide Day” protest last month.

In a statement, the six Special Rapporteurs said that some 200,000 refugees had gathered for the rally in Cox’s Bazar to mark the second anniversary of their exodus from Myanmar.

Demonstrators called for Myanmar citizenship rights and other guarantees before they would agree to return.

“Since the demonstration at Cox’s Bazar on 25 August, a number of the protest organisers have been questioned and subjected to intimidation,” the experts said.

A curfew is also being strictly enforced on those in the camps, they added, while mobile phones have been banned and confiscated.

Myanmar responds

In response to the allegations, the delegation for Myanmar maintained that the country faced development and human rights challenges, which were one and the same thing.

The Myanmar constitution prohibits the targeting of minorities, Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun insisted, before adding that there had been only temporary internet shutdowns in Rakhine and Shan states in response to insurgents’ alleged use of wireless technology to detonate bombs.

Blaming separatists for the Rohingya exodus in 2017, the Ambassador maintained that the tragedy had been exploited for political purposes.

“It is crystal clear” that there are people who want to return to Myanmar, he added, before rejecting any attempt by the international community to prosecute State military figures allegedly responsible for grave rights violations against the Rohingya unless all national remedies had been exhausted.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: prizewinning journalists freed in Myanmar, new tracking tool for suspected terrorists, and a global bid to stop snakebite deaths

UN rights chief calls for release of hundreds abducted and abused in South Sudan

5G security: Member States report on progress on implementing the EU toolbox and strengthening safety measures

The world’s e-waste is a huge problem. It’s also a golden opportunity

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Transat by Air Canada

Road safety: Data show improvements in 2018 but further concrete and swift actions are needed

Young? You should work out the entrepreneurial heart before the mind

Towards a seamless internal EU market for industrial goods

What options the new President of Ukraine has?

World Digital Media Awards winners announced at WNMC.19 in Glasgow, in association with The European Sting

Europe and the tragicomic ‘black sovranismo’

Young people worldwide can ‘determine the future of migration,’ says UN senior official

FROM THE FIELD: Enduring freezing winter in a war zone

A UN-backed boost for women-run businesses in the developing world

This is how a smart factory actually works

Nagasaki is ‘a global inspiration’ for peace, UN chief says marking 73rd anniversary of atomic bombing

The Chinese spirit

Draghi tells the EU Parliament his relaxed policies are here to stay

How Big Food is responding to the alternative protein boom

Medical Devices Regulation: Commission welcomes Council support to prioritise the fight against coronavirus

EU budget deal struck with Parliament negotiators

Trees in ‘green’ Cameroon refugee camp, bring shade and relief from ‘helter-skelter’ of life

Jeroen Dijsselbloem new Eurogroup president

Why India can show us how to achieve growth with purpose

This disease once wiped out 60% of Europe’s population – and now it’s back

Nearly 900 children released by north-east Nigeria armed group

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission decides to register two citizens’ initiatives

‘Education transforms lives’ says UN chief on first-ever International Day

The Commission calls for a climate neutral Europe by 2050*

Staying home? Here are 5 exercise tips from the World Health Organization

These cities score an ‘A’ for environmental action – but hundreds more are falling behind

Companies have a new skill to master – innovation

How the technology behind deepfakes can benefit all of society

First EU collective redress mechanism to protect consumers

It’s Trump’s anti-globalization and inward-looking rhetoric that perturbs GOP and US

3 reasons why business leaders can’t afford to ignore diversity

Refugees now make up 1% of the world’s population

COVID-19 and the pursuit of financial inclusion in Pakistan

Upgraded EU visa information database to increase security at external borders

Ebola: EU announces new funds to strengthen preparedness in Burundi

Here’s how drone delivery will change the face of global logistics

Mozambique: UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom meets the child cyclone survivors who’ve lost everything

Why does death prefer to hold a scythe rather than my hand?

Spotlight Initiative – EU and UN fight against domestic violence in the Pacific region

10 ways regulators need to change in 2020

Mixed news about the Eurozone economy

Why symbols of injustice matter and what to do with them

World Health Organization calls crisis meeting over deadly Ebola outbreak in DR Congo

Refugee crisis update: EU fails to relocate immigrants from Greece and Italy

UN General Assembly President defends ‘landmark’ migration compact

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

How our food system is eating away at nature, and our future

New EU telecom rules: latest actions in time for transposition deadline

EU-US trade war? EU calls for logic while Trump’s administration is a loose cannon in a dangerous lose-lose situation for global prosperity

Long-term exposure to air pollution is like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day

The Five Chinese Girls

The EU Commission implicates major banks in cartel cases, threatens with devastating fines

How the institutional response to COVID-19 can prepare us for climate change

What’s everyone talking about at Davos 2020?

How AI is bringing the ‘dark matter of nutrition’ to light, unlocking the power of plants

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s