The United Nations (U.N.)’s new human rights chief has called for the establishment of “an independent international mechanism” to prepare criminal indictments against Myanmar’s military for atrocities committed against the Rohingya Muslim community.
Michelle Bachelet, who took office as the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights early this month, urged the Human Rights Council in an address on Monday to create “an independent international mechanism for Myanmar, to collect, consolidate, preserve, and analyze evidence of the most serious international crimes, in order to expedite fair and independent trials in national and international courts.”
“I urge the Council to pass a resolution and refer the matter to the General Assembly for its endorsement so that such a mechanism can be established,” she told the 47-member Geneva forum at her first speech as head of the U.N. rights office.
“This mechanism would also complement and support the preliminary examination of the ICC (International Criminal Court) Prosecutor,” Bachelet explained.
Thousands of Muslims from the Rohingya community in Myanmar were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmarese soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017, when many of the surviving members of the community started fleeing to Bangladesh en masse.
A U.N. investigation into those acts of violence concluded last month that the military had had “genocidal intent.” It said there was enough evidence to prosecute Myanmar’s army chief and five other top military commanders for crimes against humanity and genocide against the Rohingya.
Bachelet said that investigators had found indications of executions, torture, and sexual violence against minorities in Myanmar’s Kachin and Shan states.
“The persistence of these patterns of violations underscores the total impunity accorded to the Myanmar security forces,” she said.
Bachelet also welcomed a ruling by the ICC last week that it “has jurisdiction over the crime against humanity of deportation allegedly committed against members of the Rohingya people.” Myanmar’s government has rejected that jurisdiction.
Bachelet’s predecessor, former U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, suggested late last month that Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi was also complicit in the crimes.
The plight of the Rohingya Muslims, long suffering in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, has attracted Western attention only recently.
The Rohingya — who have lived in Myanmar for generations — are denied citizenship and are branded illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which likewise denies them citizenship.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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