Rohingya Group Calls for Independent and Impartial Investigation

Published August 30th, 2018 - 03:00 GMT
Rohingya stranded off the coast of Thailand in May. (Christophe Archambault/ AFP)
Rohingya stranded off the coast of Thailand in May. (Christophe Archambault/ AFP)

The international community must find a way to initiate an independent and impartial investigation to bring the perpetrators of the Rohingya genocide to justice, according to the chairman of a prominent Rohingya group.

Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO) Chairman Nurul Islam said in London that Rohingya are "facing severe and institutionalized persecution" in Myanmar, including "various types of crimes against humanity, which establish genocidal intent".

Islam urged for a probe into the horrific crimes committed by Myanmar’s military top brass.

"Military top brass should be investigated by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, and genocide," he said.

Islam, who is also a coordinator for the Free Rohingya Coalition, pointed out that even a UN fact finding mission "clearly indicated that it is not possible to get any justice by any ... mechanism initiated by the Burmese government," which is why the task must be carried out by the international community.

Islam's remarks came following a new UN report released earlier this week that documented mass gang rapes, killings, including of infants and young children, brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In its report, UN investigators said violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

The UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has called for the trial of Myanmar’s top military officials, including army commander-in-chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, at the International Criminal Court for committing genocide against Rohingya Muslims.


International obligations

Islam said the international community must be "obliged" to act against the Myanmar government on the basis of the 1948 convention on prevention and punishment of genocide.

About the EU’s role in resolving the Rohingya crisis, Islam said the bloc had issued statements in support of humanitarian aid to displaced Rohingya people but the block also needs to “create proactive policies to put pressure on the Burmese government.”

"The UN Security Council is a complete fail [sic.]," he said, adding the mechanism could not decide on a resolution on Rohingya issue "because of potential opposition from countries like Russia and China".

Speaking about the support from Muslim countries, Islam said the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest world body and “they have a lot of leverage on countries like China and Russia”.

However, Islam said the OIC did not come up with any proactive policies on the Rohingya.

He said some Muslim countries who maintain good relations with Russia and China should influence those two countries to be at least neutral on the Rohingya issue.

The international community and the UN need to look for a binding resolution, he said.

“They would better take a global consensus, because this is genocide -- there is proof of it -- and these criminals need to be referred to the International Criminal Court.

"But the UN Security Council is the only organization, which could trigger a comprehensive investigation by the ICC.”


Message to Turkey

He said the Rohingya have high expectations from the people and the government of Turkey.

“We are very pleased with the statement on the expression of solidarity with the Rohingya people by the President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” he said.

“Turkey can play a leadership role in the Muslim world,” Islam said, adding that “when genocide is unfolding in a country, when there are many divisions among the world opinion to take action.

“This is an important role needed to be played by Muslim leaders like Erdogan and Turkey.”

Islam said they also expect support from ASEAN countries as they can press for Rohingya minority rights as Myanmar is a member state, underlining that Malaysia could play a good role in the organization.

Nearly 24,000 Rohingya killed

In a report, the UNHCR refugee agency said nearly 170,000 Rohingya likely fled Myanmar in 2012 alone.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

In a recent report, Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience, the OIDA raised the estimated number of murdered Rohingya to 23,962 (± 881) from a Doctors Without Borders figure of 9,400.

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, the OIDA report said, adding that 17,718 (±780) Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police. Over 115,000 Rohingya houses were also burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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