FILE PHOTO: Smoke is seen on the Myanmar border as Rohingya refugees walk on the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal, in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. government probe into Myanmar’s campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority was not aimed at determining whether genocide or crimes against humanity had been committed, but those responsible could still be held accountable for those crimes, a top State Department official said on Thursday.
The U.S. State Department report released on Monday said Myanmar’s military waged a “well-planned and coordinated” campaign of mass killings, gang rapes and other atrocities against the Rohingya.
But it stopped short of describing the crackdown as genocide or crimes against humanity, an issue that other U.S. officials said was the subject of fierce internal debate that delayed the report’s rollout for nearly a month.
“There weren’t legal judgments expressed in it because that wasn’t the point of the report,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told a news conference in New York when asked why the report had not used the words “genocide” or “crimes against humanity.”
He added: “We are working toward holding those accountable, including judgments like the one you have offered – characterizing it as a crime against humanity or genocide.”
Sullivan spoke on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, shortly before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Kyaw Tint Swe, Myanmar’s minister for the Office of the State Counselor and its representative to the U.N. session.Pompeo did not respond to a reporter’s question about whether there had been genocide in Myanmar.
U.S. officials told Reuters earlier this week that the State Department report could be used to justify further U.S. sanctions or other punitive measures against Myanmar authorities.
The report, which was first reported by Reuters, resulted from more than a thousand interviews of Rohingya men and women in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh, where almost 700,000 Rohingya have fled after a military campaign last year in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Survivors described in harrowing detail what they had witnessed, including soldiers killing infants and small children, the shooting of unarmed men, and victims buried alive or thrown into pits of mass graves. They told of widespread sexual assault by Myanmar’s military of Rohingya women, often carried out in public.
The Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay declined to comment when reached on Tuesday and said he was unable to answer questions by telephone. Calls to military spokesman Major General Tun Tun Nyi were unanswered.
Human rights groups and Rohingya activists have put the death toll in the thousands from the crackdown, which followed attacks by Rohingya insurgents on security forces in Rakhine State in August 2017.
The results of the U.S. investigation were released in low-key fashion – posted on the State Department’s website – nearly a month after U.N. investigators issued their own report accusing Myanmar’s military of acting with “genocidal intent” and calling for the country’s commander-in-chief and five generals to be prosecuted under international law.
The military in Myanmar, previously known as Burma, where Buddhism is the main religion, has denied accusations of ethnic cleansing and says its actions were part of a fight against terrorism.
Senior State Department officials said the aim of the report was to guide U.S. policy aimed at holding the perpetrators accountable. The report proposed no new steps.
One official said it would be up to Pompeo whether to make such a “legal” designation in the future and did not rule out the possibility.
ICC is the only solution for those perpetrators be brought to justice so that the history of genocide of all ethnic minorities including Rohingya will never repeat again. Here is Dr Waker Uddin interview translation details who cannot understand Burmese language. Credit to Dr Haikal Mansor This is my translation of his part of statement. It is CRYSTAL CLEAR what he said. VOA: ICC states that it has jurisdiction to investigate over the forceful expulsion of Rohingya. Since Myanmar is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, what do you think of the ICC fully process in investigating the situation? WAKAR UDDIN: ICC will proceed with the international law. It has its own experts. International expert must decide whether they proceed with its procedure and if not what way it be. In order not to reach that point [of ICC referral], isn’t it good they cooperate with the government of Myanmar to solve the problem? Although ICC International Expert and International lawyers [say about the prosecution at ICC], we Rohingya can solve this problem by being provided with their human rights and the status of nationality, even without reaching to it [ICC Court]. VOA: What do you think about the call for the investigation and prosecution of General Min Aung Hlaing and other generals under the international law for committing gravest crimes, described in the report of UN Fact Finding Mission? WAKAR UDDIN: Who is responsible for Crime Against Humanity? Where did the command came from – top, from the state, from the local district level? It is good to investigate according to norms. After investigating the evidence, it should state what steps should be taken. Therefore, the best way I think is to prevent reaching to that point [of ICC referral] and to quickly solve the situation. It is good for Tatmadaw [Myanmar Military]. It is good for Myanmar. It is good for the democratic government [of Myanmar]. It is good for NLD [National League for Democracy]. VOA: Do Rohingya not agree to prosecute Myanmar chain of command at ICC, do they? What do you think? WAKAR UDDIN: It’s different [in opinions]. Some Rohingya say it should continue. As I understand, the majority [of Rohingya] think that it is not good to reach to that point [of ICC Prosecution]. They want to return to their country and to their land. As far as I have talked to them, they want to go. There is no need of anything if they get their human rights, the status of nationality and the security to live. The government of Myanmar should thoroughly investigate and quickly find the answer. For Contact : Email : info@arakanpressnetwork24 firstname.lastname@example.org
Geneva: A leading United Nations human rights investigator has criticised Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s civilian leader, for acting as a “fig leaf for military atrocities” against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
In an interview ahead of Tuesday’s release of a 400-page report on alleged “genocidal” crimes, Australian lawyer Chris Sidoti said that Nobel laureate Ms Suu Kyi could not escape responsibility for failing to act over the violence. The report, by three independent experts including Mr Sidoti, provides the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva with harrowing details of mass killings and rape by Myanmar’s military that prompted more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh last year.
Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo: AP
“The very first thing she could have done was not provide cover for the military by dismissing the overwhelming number of reports of mass rape as fake,” Mr Sidoti said. “She could have refused to provide a fig leaf for military atrocities of the most serious kind… she has enormous moral authority, she won 80 per cent of the popular vote in the 2015 election.”
Sidoti is a former Human Rights Commissioner and ex-commissioner of the Australian Law Reform Commission.
The presentation of the final investigation to the Swiss-based council will mark a crucial step on the long road to obtaining justice for thousands who lost their lives or their homes or who were brutalised during the merciless operation by Myanmar’s troops.
A preliminary report released last month by Sidoti, former Indonesian attorney-general Marzuki Darusman and Sri Lankan lawyer and women’s rights expert Radhika Coomaraswamy, called for Myanmar’s senior generals to be prosecuted for genocide.
Based on 875 interviews with victims and eyewitnesses plus satellite imagery, it documents the shooting and stabbing of children, the scorching of Rohingya villages and gang rape on an enormous scale. Mr Sidoti told The Daily Telegraph: “The level of trauma in the camps in Bangladesh is beyond anything I have ever seen.”
Last month, the Myanmar government dismissed the UN investigators’ findings as “false allegations”. However, the UN panel has recommended a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague as an option, which has already won support from some quarters. Last week, more than 160 British MPs signed a letter urging Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to refer Myanmar’s military to the court.
An ICC trial was only one way to push for justice, Mr Sidoti added, explaining that other options could include a specialised criminal tribunal or an individual country exercising its rights to universal jurisdiction for crimes of this magnitude.
Tuesday’s report will also remind the international community of its obligations to take action, and will explicitly include a call for a ban on arms sales and on “high level exchanges and training” with the Myanmar military until it has been reconstituted.
According to Mr Sidoti, the reluctance of the international community to act sooner is “the most haunting question of all”.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has described the Myanmar military’s use of false pictures as propaganda against Rohingyas which she finds ‘disgusting’.
What Myanmar is doing is disgusting,” she said. “They are ruining their own reputation. They are diminishing their position on the world stage.”
The prime minister made the remarks in response to a question regarding the Rohingya crisis during a news conference on the BIMSTEC summit at the Ganabhaban on Sunday.
The Myanmar military had distributed a book on the ‘True News’ of the Rohingya crisis in July. A media investigation of the book found that three photographs in it had been falsely represented as being from the Rohingya crisis.
Two of the photos were originally taken in Bangladesh and Tanzania. A third was falsely labelled as Rohingyas entering Myanmar from Bangladesh, when in reality it showed migrants leaving the country.
One of the photographs was of a man recovering the body of Bengalis after a 1971 massacre in Dhaka. The book said the picture showed the brutal killing of Myanmar’s ethnic population by Bengalis.
Over 700,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh from across the border in Myanmar in the wake of a military crackdown in Rakhine State last August. Nearly 400,000 other Rohingyas had also fled to Bangladesh at various times in the past few decades.
Last December, in the wake of international pressure, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement on the repatriation of the Rohingyas to Myanmar. But the process has yet to begin. Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has suggested that Bangladesh is responsible for the delay.
Suu Kyi skipped this year’s summit of the BIMSTEC regional group, which consists of seven nations with connections to the Bay of Bengal. Myanmar President Win Myint attended the summit instead.
Hasina was asked whether the regional forum had discussed the Rohingya crisis and she said bilateral issues are usually not discussed at the event. The prime minister did, however, speak to President Myint on the matter briefly.
“He acknowledged the agreement that we have signed. They say they are ready to take them back. We discussed that much. I also spoke to the Thai prime minister.”
Bangladesh has never wanted conflict with Myanmar, she said.
“We are always continuing discussions regarding the return of Rohingyas. Myanmar never objects. They say they will take them. But the reality is that they say it, but don’t do it.”
Limited EVM use
The prime minister said she was in favour of testing the electronic voting machines or EVMs during the impending parliamentary elections.
Hasina made the statement amidst the BNP and most other parties’ opposition to the use of EVMs.
“We cannot suppress it,” she said at news briefing on Sunday. “It is a matter of practice. We must test them out.”
The EVMs first came into use in Bangladesh in 2010, but they have only been used during local government elections.
The Election Commission has recently proposed a change to election laws to use them for the general elections in December. A proposal was put forward to use EVMs for one-third of the parliamentary seats, but has yet to be finalised, said Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda.
The EC’s sudden decision has led to a backlash from political circles. The BNP has vocally opposed the move, saying that the government was planning ‘digitally rig’ the polls with the EVMs.
“We want to begin using them in some places to test them,” said Hasina during Sunday’s briefing. “We need to see if there is any system loss in the technology. If we see any indication of problems we will remove them. But this is not the final word on the matter. Let’s start using the technology on a limited scale.”
‘No talks with BNP’
Hasina once again ruled out the possibility of having dialogue with the BNP or taking measures to make sure the party contest in the next general elections.
The BNP says it will not join the next parliamentary polls if the Awami League government does not step down and release BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail.
“It’s up to the parties whether they will contest in elections. What do we have to do here?” Hasina asked.
“We can neither obstruct them from contesting in the election nor can we invite them to the polls,” she added.
On being asked if she was considering any response to the BNP’s call for talks, she referred to the refusal of Khaleda to meet her after the former prime minister’s son Arafat Rahman Coco died in 2015.
“No way! No matter what you say. It doesn’t matter whether I am in power or not,” she said.
The prime minister said Khaleda’s lawyers failed to prove her innocence in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case and the government has nothing to do with the case.
“They can free Khaleda through the court. And if they want it quick, they must seek the president’s pardon,” Hasina suggested.
Bangladesh praised at Nepal summit
The prime minister said Bangladesh was praised at different levels of the Fourth BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu.
She went to Nepal on Thursday to attend the summit. After addressing the opening session, she joined the retreat.
She also met India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Bhutan’s advisor to interim government Tshering Wangchuk on the sidelines of the summit.
“The BIMSTEC Summit and the other related meetings were important for Bangladesh on the whole. All the quarters praised my participation in the summit and Bangladesh’s role in the other meetings,” Hasina said.
She said she called for joint efforts to tackle poverty, effects of climate change, terrorism and others issues in the Bay of Bengal region and for speeding up the process to start these efforts at the summit.
NEW YORK, Aug. 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — AJC welcomes the UN report on genocide committed against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar and urges the UN Security Council to take concrete action to implement the report’s recommendations.
“The horrific attacks against the Rohingya cannot be ignored. It is critical for the international community to seek accountability for perpetrators of these gross human rights violations and abuses,” said Jerry Biederman, Chair of the Administrative Council of AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights.
The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, comprised of three esteemed human rights experts, including Radhika Coomaraswamy, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Marzuki Darusman, former Indonesian attorney general, released the report one year after Myanmar’s military undertook a brutal campaign against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
More than 600,000 have fled to neighboring Bangladesh to seek safety from the regime’s mass abuses and atrocities, including burning villages, raping, and killing thousands. The military assaults were allegedly in response to attacks by a Rohingya resistance group, but the report indicates “the nature, scale and organization of the operations suggests a level of preplanning and design” intended to “solve the problem” of the Rohingya by embarking on disproportionate and gruesome “clearance operations” targeting and terrorizing the entire Rohingya population.
“There is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials so that a competent court can determine their liability for genocide in relation to the situation in Rakhine State,” concludes the UN fact-finding mission report. It also recommended that the Rohingya situation in Myanmar be referred to the International Criminal Court to ensure accountability for those responsible for these grave crimes.
The UN Mission’s report describes the gross human rights violations and abuses as “shocking” for their “horrifying nature” and “the level of denial, normalcy and impunity that is attached to them.” The report criticizes Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s former President and current Foreign Minister and State Counsellor, for failing to stem human rights abuses and protect the Rohingya population.
“This report merits the most serious attention and follow-up by the UN Security Council and others,” said Biederman. AJC urges all members of the UN Security Council to demand investigations and prosecutions of perpetrators of crimes against humanity and genocide, and to ensure a resolution to the refugee crisis as well.
Other recommendations in the report include UN Security Council-imposed sanctions on top officials, the creation of a mechanism to gather evidence, ensuring repatriation only under safe and voluntary conditions with human rights protection guarantees.
AJC calls on the Security Council to adopt and implement all the recommendations in the Independent Fact-Finding Mission report.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee
Source by : https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ajc-urges-un-security-council-to-protect-myanmars-rohingya-population-300705150.html