Refer Myanmar to ICC for crimes against Rohingya: UNHCR

Refer Myanmar to ICC for crimes against Rohingya: UNHCR

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Dhaka, July 4 – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday urged the UN Security Council to immediately refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) so that all allegations of crimes against humanity and genocide perpetrated against the Rohingya as well as allegations of war crimes against other ethnic groups can be investigated. He also requested that the Human Rights Council recommends to the General Assembly the establishment of a new international, impartial and independent mechanism, complementary to the Fact-Finding Mission to assist the criminal investigation of individual perpetrators.
“This mechanism should also develop a framework for the reintegration of the Rohingya and other victims, and provision of immediate and long-term support to victims,” Zeid told the UN Human Rights Council.
More broadly, he deplored the failure to include Rohingya in discussions on their own future, and the persistent failure of several members of the international community to uphold the community’s rights to self-identify as Rohingya, according to a statement received from Geneva.
“Refusal to name the Rohingya as such including in official documents and statements – even at this Council – adds disrespect to the terrible violations they have suffered,” Zeid mentioned.
Newly arrived refugees interviewed by the UN Human Rights Office described continuing violence, persecution and human rights violations, including killings and the burning of Rohingya homes, as well as the erosion of their legal personality and rights.
“No amount of rhetoric can whitewash these facts,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In recent months, Myanmar has challenged allegations that its security forces have engaged in an ethnic cleansing campaign which has led to the flight of over 700,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh since August 2017.
The authorities have also expended considerable energy in attempting to convince the world that it is ready and willing to allow the refugees to return.
In January, Myanmar signed an agreement with Bangladesh on the physical arrangement for repatriation.
In May, it concluded a memorandum of understanding with UNHCR and UNDP to create conducive conditions for return.
It also announced that it would establish a Commission of Enquiry to investigate human rights violations in the period subsequent to August 25, 2017.
Throughout, government representatives have repeatedly stated that Myanmar is ready to accept returnees.
“And yet, although it has been almost a year since the post-25 August violence began, not a single Rohingya refugee has returned under the formal framework agreed with Bangladesh,” Zeid said.
Many – if not all – of those who have returned of their own accord have been detained. Fifty-eight Rohingya who returned between January and April this year were arrested and convicted on unspecified charges.
They then received a Presidential pardon, but have simply been transferred from Buthidaung prison to a so-called “reception centre,” in conditions that appear tantamount to administrative detention.
Around 90 Rohingya who reportedly attempted to travel by boat from Bangladesh to Malaysia, but came ashore in Rakhine State due to engine problems were also detained.
They have since been handed over into the custody of the authorities of various village tracts, which in half of the cases, are not their village tracts of origin.
Moreover, thousands of Rohingya people continue to flee Rakhine State.
As of mid-June, there have been 11,432 new arrivals in Bangladesh in 2018.
In April, 140 Rohingya who departed from central Rakhine by boat reached Malaysia and Indonesia respectively; 10 people on board one of the boats reportedly died en route.
All the newly arrived refugees who have been interviewed by OHCHR described continuing violence, persecution and human rights violations, including killings and the burning of Rohingya homes.
“No amount of rhetoric can whitewash these facts. People are still fleeing persecution in Rakhine – and are even willing to risk dying at sea to escape,” Zeid said.
Since at least 1978, the concomitant campaign to erode the legal personality and rights of the Rohingya has steadily intensified, he said.
As this Council is aware, the 1982 Citizenship Law provides for citizenship primarily on the basis of ethnicity, in violation of the prohibition against racial discrimination – effectively barringRohingya access to citizenship, which they had enjoyed under previous legislation.
Since the 1990s, Myanmar has also required Rohingya intending to marry to obtain approval from immigration officials; imposed a two-child policy on Rohingya families, and excluded them from the most recent national census.
At the same time, the Rohingya’s fundamental rights, including the rights to freedom of movement, religion, health, education and access to livelihood, were increasingly and systematically restricted over time, Zeid said.
“Myanmar must grasp that the international community will not forget the outrages committed against the Rohingya, nor will it absolve the politicians who seek to cover them up,” he said.
Zeid said to ensure a credible investigation, the Government must grant immediate access to independent international human rights investigators and special envoy on Myanmar.

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