CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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United Nations initiative on Myanmar atrocities an important step

Mandalay (UCAN): The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution on September 27 that creates an independent, international body to help prepare case files for future criminal proceedings against perpetrators of atrocities committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar.
 
The UNHRC’s 47 members voted in favour of the resolution, 37 to 3 with seven abstentions. China, the Philippines and Burundi voted against the resolution, which was drafted by the European Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
 
John Fisher, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch, said the UNHRC made an important step for justice by creating the body to pinpoint criminal responsibility for the countless atrocities in Myanmar.
 
“It deals a blow to Myanmar’s deep-seated culture of impunity and moves victims closer to seeing Myanmar’s generals held to account,” Fisher said in a statement.
Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s crisis response director, said that while the UN Security Council remains bogged down by politics, the UNHRC has stepped up to the challenge with this serious and constructive approach.
 
“It sends a clear message of solidarity to the victims and survivors as well as a stark warning to Myanmar’s military that their crimes will be punished,” Hassan said in a statement.
 
Six regional and local rights groups—Forum-Asia, Equality Myanmar, Progressive Voice, Kachin Women’s Association Thailand, Women’s Peace Network-Arakan and Rohingya Women Welfare Society—have also supported the UNHRC resolution.
 
“The establishment of a UN body is a ray of hope for victims and survivors of horrific atrocities in Myanmar. This will ensure that these crimes and perpetrators are not forgotten and strengthen the hope for actual trial and prosecutions in the near future,” Wai Wai Nu, of Women’s Peace Network-Arakan, said in a joint statement.
 
The resolution also expands a one-year mandate to an earlier UN fact-finding mission which said military chief, Min Aung Hlaing, and five other senior generals must be prosecuted for genocide and war crimes against Rohingya and other ethnic minorities.
 
The resolution also calls for the new mechanism to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which ruled earlier in September that it had jurisdiction to investigate the forced deportation of Rohingya from Myanmar into Bangladesh. 
 
Min Aung Hlaing insisted on September 23 that the UN has no right to interfere in Myanmar’s sovereignty.
 
More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh after a crackdown by Myanmar’s military in August 2017, following attacks on security personnel by Rohingya insurgents.

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