Possible elements of genocide in Myanmar

Possible elements of genocide in Myanmar

The rights chief then asked: "Considering Rohingyas' self-identify as a distinct ethnic group with their own language and culture - and [that they] are also deemed by the perpetrators themselves as belonging to a different ethnic, national, racial or religious group - given all of this, can anyone rule out that elements of genocide may be present?"

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that none of the 626,000 Rohingya who have fled violence to Bangladesh since August should be repatriated to Myanmar unless there was robust monitoring on the ground.

More than 100 days have passed since an upsurge in violence in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state forced almost 626,000 Rohingya to flee for safety to Bangladesh.

The use of the term genocide increases worldwide pressure on Myanmar (also called Burma) and reflects deep concern at what the United Nations describes as decades of discrimination and violence against the Rohingya. Ethnic cleansing is not recognised as an independent crime under worldwide law.

Zeid al-Hussein urged the United Nations to set up a new mechanism to allow criminal prosecutions of individuals suspected to be responsible.

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Myanmar does not accept its jurisdiction, meaning the UN Security Council's unanimous support would be needed to force an investigation.

The resolution said the 47-member body is "alarmed" by statements and reports of grave violations against the Rohingya that have been carried out in a "systematic, targeted and deliberate" way by security forces with the help of unspecified "non-state actors".

Myanmar's representative at the meeting continued to reject accusations of atrocities, saying refugees accounts are made up or forced.

Mainly Buddhist Myanmar denies the Muslim Rohingya are its citizens and considers them foreigners.

Meanwhile, another Myanmar official has reportedly denied plans to hold any returning Rohingya in camps, following earlier reports that authorities were building large detention facilities for them. "Deep divisions between communities remain unaddressed and human access is inadequate", she said.

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