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Rohingya group seeks international probe into abuses

08:41 pm Mar 17, 2017 2412
European Rohingya Council says many countries from Europe, Asia remain silent on Rohingya issue

By Bayram Altug

GENEVA (AA) – The international community is reluctant to form an independent body to investigate crimes carried out against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, a campaign group has told Anadolu Agency.

Hla Kyaw, chairman of the European Rohingya Council, said the UN, EU and other international organizations and states should support an independent investigation committee.

His remarks came after the Advisory Commission on Rakhine, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, released an interim report stressing the need for independent and impartial investigations into allegations of crimes committed by the security forces.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, and the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, both recently called for the UN Human Rights Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the situation in Rakhine state.

But the EU, Russia and China, along with some Asian countries like Indonesia, opposed the proposal, Kyaw said.

“We are disappointed, sad and unhappy about the outcome of the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council…The international community is so reluctant to support an international, independent investigation committee to investigate Myanmar’s crimes against humanity,” Kyaw told Anadolu Agency.

“It is a crime against Rohingya people, a crime against humanity and it is a slow-burning genocide,” he added.

He criticized the UN for supporting an investigation commission formed by the military “to investigate the very crimes committed by the military”.

“We are not satisfied. We expected much more than this. We expected that the international community would unanimously agree, would come to a conclusion, to set up an independent international investigation to investigate these crimes against humanity,” Kyaw added.

He blamed European states for backing Myanmar’s government and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi for the sake of their economic and political links.

“They always give them [the Myanmar authorities] space and time,” he said.

– Rights abuses

“As a Rohingya organization we ask only one simple question: ‘How long, how much more do we need to suffer? Until we are eliminated from the soil of Arakan? How much time do you need?’”

“It has already been 34 years. The government started this persecution in 1978,” Kyaw added.

He claimed the United Nations knew about the incidents from the very beginning because some UN agencies had been working in the area for decades.

“They know much more than the report revealed… This revealed a tiny amount of the atrocities… It is just tip of the iceberg,” Kyaw said.

“They are still reluctant to stop the government from committing this crime against humanity,” he added.

Security forces had placed Rakhine’s Maungdaw area — predominately inhabited by Rohingya Muslims — on lockdown for nearly five months following Oct. 9 attacks near the border with Bangladesh.

During the military operations, the UN and rights groups documented evidence of widespread abuses such as killings — including those of children and babies — gang rape, beatings, the burning of villages and disappearances.

The government has said at least 106 people have been killed since the attacks.

However, Rohingya advocacy groups claim around 400 Rohingya were killed, women raped and Rohingya villages torched.

On Turkey’s initiatives and support for Rohingya Muslims, Kyaw said that Turkish state-run aid group TIKA was “one of the few aid agencies who got access to Maungdaw”.

“We are happy to see Turkish humanitarian support there,” he said and expected more support from the Turkish people and government.

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