CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 September 2018

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Calls for accountability over Myanmar atrocities

MANDALAY (UCAN): “Accountability is essential for genuine reconciliation between all ethnic groups and is a prerequisite for regional security and stability,” United Nations (UN) secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, said, as he called for accountability over the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic group in Myanmar which he described as one of the world’s worst humanitarian and human rights crises.
 
During his remarks to the UN Security Council on Myanmar on August 28, Guterres called for international efforts to resolve the crisis which has seen more than 700,000 Rohingya flee Rakhine State to Bangladesh since a military crackdown began in August 2017.
 
“Regrettably, Myanmar has refused to cooperate with United Nations human rights entities and mechanisms despite repeated calls to do so, including by members of this council. 
 
“We have called for different accountability options to be considered. Most recently, very strong concerns have been expressed by the UN Independent Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar appointed by the Human Rights Council.”
 
Guterres’ remarks follow the August 27 release of the mission’s report which in part said that senior military officials in Myanmar must be prosecuted for genocide and war crimes against Rohingya Muslims and other ethnic minorities.
 
The report singled out Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s military chief, and five key generals.
 
Guterres also visited Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, last month and he told the council that when he was there he heard several stories of horrendous persecution and suffering including “a father who saw his son shot dead in front of him.”
 
He said it is clear that “conditions are not yet met for the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return” of Rohingya refugees to “their places of origin or choice.”
 
Hau Do Suan, Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, rejected the report citing concerns over the mission’s impartiality.
 
“The government does not condone human rights abuses and will take action, if there is evidence of such crimes,” Hau Do Suan told council members.
 
Zaw Htay, Myanmar’s government spokesperson, said it had not allowed the UN Fact-Finding Mission to enter the country.
 
“Our stance is clear and I want to say sharply that we don’t accept any resolutions by the Human Rights Council,” Htay was reported as saying by state-run Global New Light of Myanmar on August 29.
 
Htay said Myanmar formed the four-member Independent Commission of Enquiry to rebut what he said are false allegations being made by the UN agencies and other international bodies.
 
Rosario Manalo, a former deputy foreign minister of the Philippines, will head the commission, which begins work this week. Commission members were slated to meet with government officials in Naypyitaw on August 29.   
 
The International Criminal Court is also deliberating whether it has the mandate to prosecute Myanmese officials responsible for the crackdown which the UN earlier described as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.

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