UN Launches International Investigation Into Allegations Of Ethnic Cleansing In Myanmar

The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution warranting an international fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of killings, rape, and torture of the Rohingya people by Myanmar’s military and security forces in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state. The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution brought by the European Union and supported by countries including the United States that called for “ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims.”

The decision was previously surrounded by fears of it failing to go through due to a lack of support from the European Union and countries like Australia. Myanmar’s Htin Lynn, referring to the resolution, said, “Such kind of action is not acceptable to Myanmar as it not in harmony with the situation on the ground and our national circumstances.” Before the consensus, ambassador Lynn rejected the move as “not acceptable.” China and India also disassociated themselves from the consensus, with the Chinese delegation saying the issue “cannot be solved overnight.”

Presidential spokesman Zaw Htay claimed a separate mission to examine Myanmar’s human rights abuse allegations was unfair, as its own national-level commission, led by Vice President Myint Swe and a Rakhine advisory commission headed by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, was already examining the issue. “It is totally unfair and counter to international practice that other countries have decided to send a separate mission to investigate violations when we haven’t completed our own investigations,” he said. “Their action shows a lack of respect to the host country.”

However, UN special rapporteur Yanghee Lee claimed that the domestic investigation was “flawed” and another, led by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan didn’t have an all-encompassing mandate, according to a Canadian media source. A UN report based on interviews with 220 Rohingya people, among 75,000 who have fled to Bangladesh, confirmed fears that Myanmar’s security forces continue to commit mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya people, actions that would “very likely” amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Lee told the UN Human Rights Council that Burma was still “making Rohingya lives difficult by dismantling homes and conducting a household survey,” according to Reuters. Lee added that she heard “allegation after allegation of horrific events like these – slitting of throats, indiscriminate shootings, setting alight houses with people tied up inside and throwing very young people into the fire, as well as gang rapes and other sexual violence.” Lee was denied access to parts of Myanmar and was told that “the situation is currently worse than at any point in the past few years.” However, Myanmar’s military claimed official investigations had failed to substantiate most accusations.

The Rohingya people are denied basic rights in, including citizenship. Additionally, estimated one million population in Buddhist-majority Myanmar are denied basic rights, such as a right to citizenship. They are often seen as immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh living illegally in the country.

Nishtha Sharma