UN fact-finding mission over Rohingya crisis ends BD tour
Published: October 28, 2017 00:58:02 | Updated: October 28, 2017 00:58:02
Three United Nations human rights experts who concluded their first fact-finding mission in Bangladesh on Friday were “deeply disturbed” by accounts of killings, torture, rape, arson and aerial attacks reportedly perpetrated against the Rohingya community in Myanmar, reports UNB.
Over 600,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh since 25 August when Myanmar forces began the so-called “clearance operations” following alleged armed attacks on security posts. Over half of them are children. Although the total number of deaths is unknown, it may turn out to be extremely high, said the Foreign Ministry in the city.
The UN Human Rights Council appointed the Fact-Finding Mission last March to “establish the facts and circumstances of alleged human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State”.If the Mission concludes that there have been violations, it will seek to ensure full accountability for perpetrators and justice for the victims. “We are deeply disturbed at the end of this visit,” said Marzuki Darusman, former Indonesian Attorney-General and human rights campaigner, who chairs the Fact Finding Mission. “We have heard many accounts from people from many different villages across northern Rakhine state. They point to a consistent, methodical pattern of actions resulting in gross human rights violations affecting hundreds of thousands of people.”
Expert Radhika Coomaraswamy, former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, said the misery and despair she witnessed in the camps had left her “shaken and angry”.
“The accounts of sexual violence that I heard from victims are some of the most horrendous I have heard in my long experience in dealing with this issue in many crisis situations,” she said. “One could see the trauma in the eyes of the women I interviewed. When proven, this kind of abuse must never be allowed to go unpunished.”
While in Bangladesh, the experts interviewed Rohingya victims in Kutapalong, Nayapara and Balukhali camps in Cox’s Bazar and held consultations with the government officials, diplomats and NGOs. In addition, teams of human rights officers, dispatched by the Fact Finding Mission, have been in Bangladesh for many weeks conducting comprehensive interviews with those who fled from Rakhine.
The Mission has applied to the Myanmar government for access to Myanmar. It seeks the views of the government and the military on what has happened and why, and wishes to conduct inquires inside Rakhine State itself.
However, access to the country has not yet been granted, without which it becomes more difficult – though not impossible – to establish the facts. For example, whether the armed attacks on military posts actually occurred, as the government claims, can only be established when the government presents the information that has led it to draw this conclusion.
The third expert, Christopher Sidoti, an Australian international human rights specialist, said the visit to Bangladesh also focused on the future of the Rohingyas. The United Nations and many governments have called for their return to Myanmar.