The head of a U.N. fact-finding mission on Myanmar has warned that up to 600,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority still living in the country are at “serious risk” of becoming victims of another genocide.
Marzuki Darusman told the General Assembly’s human rights committee on Oct. 22 that continued discrimination, segregation, and restricted movement imposed on the Rohingya, as well as denial of access to education health care and jobs, had worsened the situation in Rakhine State.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingya as citizens or one of its ethnic groups.
The minority was subjected to harsh reprisals following an insurgent attack in August 2017 that saw at least 700,000 Rohingya people flee to safety in neighboring Bangladesh to escape mass killings, rapes and the destruction of homes.
The Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, which Darusman heads, said in a report filed last month that Myanmar should be held to account for alleged genocide committed against the Rohingya.
“There is a strong inference of continued genocidal intent on the part of the state in relation to the Rohingya and there is a serious risk of genocide recurring,” Darusman told the rights committee on Oct. 22 reported AP.
“Myanmar is failing in its obligations under the Genocide Convention to prevent genocide, to investigate genocide and to enact effective legislation and to enact effective legislation criminalizing and punishing genocide,” he said.
Darusman said his team had transferred 1,227 interviews with victims and witnesses to the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar another specially established U.N. body, and also a list of more than 150 people suspected of committing international crimes.
He called for international support to ensure a case against Myanmar is brought before the International Court of Justice for breaching the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Additional measures, including the establishment of an ad hoc tribunal like the U.N. set up for similar crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda should also be considered, he said.
Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador, Hau Do Suan, countered by saying the fact-finding mission was flawed and took a “one-sided” view based on “misleading information and secondary sources.”
He said the situation of other ethnic minorities in Rakhine State was completely overlooked by the U.N. team.
The ambassador said Myanmar was serious that those who committed gross human rights violations “causing the large outflow of displaced persons to Bangladesh must be held accountable.”
“However, we will never accept any attempt to exert unjust and unwarranted political pressures under the pretext of accountability,” Hau said.
However, the U.N.’s independent investigator on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, told the assembly that the Independent Commission of Inquiry formed by Myanmar’s government “does not represent a possible end to this impunity.”
“It has not produced a single report after nearly 15 months,” she said.
“Discrimination against religious minorities continues unabated,” she said. “I am informed of 27 villages which describe themselves as ‘Muslim free,’ banning Muslims from entry.”
Darusman and Lee have both said that is still unsafe for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to return to Myanmar.