EU calls for international probe of Rohingya abuses in Myanmar

Boys search for useful items among the ashes of burnt houses after fire destroyed shelters at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims in the western Rakhine State near Sittwe, Myanmar on May 3, 2016.
Boys search for useful items among the ashes of burnt houses after fire destroyed shelters at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims in the western Rakhine State near Sittwe, Myanmar on May 3, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (Reuters) - The European Union called on Thursday (March 16) for the United Nations to send an international fact-finding mission urgently to Myanmar to investigate allegations of torture, rapes and executions by the military against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

A UN report last month, based on interviews with survivors in Bangladesh, said the Myanmar army and police had committed mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya in a campaign that may amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

The EU draft resolution, submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, strengthens language in an earlier draft circulating that stopped short of demanding an international probe into alleged atrocities.

The 47-member forum, currently holding a four-week session, is to vote on resolutions from March 23-24.

 

If adopted, the Council would "dispatch urgently an independent international fact-finding mission" to Myanmar to investigate violations "with a view to ensure full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims".

 

Some 75,000 people have fled Rakhine state to Bangladesh since Myanmar's military began a security operation last October in response to what it says was an attack by Rohingya insurgents on border posts in which nine police officers were killed.

The EU resolution calls on the government of Aung San Suu Kyi to "fully cooperate with the fact-finding mission, including by making available the findings of the domestic investigations".

 

Activists say that national efforts have not been credible and have called for an international inquiry.

Myanmar has denied almost all allegations of human rights abuses in northern Rakhine and says a lawful counterinsurgency campaign is under way.

Yanghee Lee, UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, told the council on Monday that the government may be using bureaucratic means to get rid of the Rohingya. She cited dismantling of homes and use of a household survey whereby those absent may be struck off the list that could be the only legal proof of their status.

A panel led by former UN chief Kofi Annan said earlier on Thursday Myanmar should immediately start allowing Rohingya to return home and ultimately close rundown camps for the displaced.