The United Nations (UN)’s special envoy to Myanmar says the Myanmarese government is “unwilling” to investigate state-sponsored violence against the Rohingya Muslim community in the country, calling on the international community to take action before it is too late.
UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee said in a report published on her Twitter account on Monday that the Myanmarese government had taken “limited and insufficient steps” to investigate the atrocities against Rohingya Muslims.
Last year, Myanmar’s armed forces, backed by Buddhist extremist mobs, launched a state-sponsored crackdown against the Muslim community in Rakhine State. Thousands have been killed and over 700,000 Rohingya have only survived by fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh, where they are camped in overcrowded refugee centers in dire living conditions.
“[Myanmar] is unable and unwilling to discharge its obligation to conduct credible, prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations and prosecutions,” Lee said.
The UN has already concluded that the atrocities constitute genocide.
A Myanmarese border guard patrols along the fence in the so-called no man’s land between Myanmar and Bangladesh, on August 24, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
Myanmar, however, has blatantly denied the violence. However, massive evidence has been collected by international observers, medics, and journalists, even though the government has blocked access to the ground zero of the violence, namely Rakhine.
‘Case should be forwarded to ICC immediately’
Given the government’s refusal to hold itself accountable for the atrocities, Lee urged “the international community to take action.”
“Any delay in instituting justice will only result in more violations,” she warned, saying that the UN had to “refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) immediately.”
The Hague-based court had already said last month that it had opened a preliminary investigation into the military’s crimes. Myanmar is not a member of the court, but the membership of Bangladesh, which is home to tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, is enough basis for its jurisdiction over the case.
Lee herself has been barred from entering Myanmar since December last year, after her sharp criticisms of the government’s treatment of the Rohingya.
She has asked India for permission to meet Rohingya Muslim refugees there but received no response from New Delhi. An estimated 40,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to India.