The top United Nations human rights body agreed on Friday to send an international fact-finding mission to investigate widespread allegations of killings, rape and torture by security forces against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
The 47-member state forum adopted a resolution by consensus, brought by the European Union (EU), that called for “ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims.”
A UN report issued last month, based on interviews with 220 Rohingya among 75,000 who have fled to Bangladesh since October, said that Myanmar’s forces have committed mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya in a campaign that “very likely” amounts to crimes against humanity and possibly ethnic cleansing.
Myanmar’s delegation, referring to the resolution, said that “such kind of action is not acceptable.”
Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where Rohingya are mainly based, has been under a military siege since October 2016 over a raid on a police post that was blamed on Rohingya-linked militants.
UN investigators, who interviewed Rohingya escapees in neighboring Bangladesh, have blamed Myanmar’s government forces for responding with a campaign of murder, gang rape and arson that they say may amount to genocide.
In report last month, Reuters cited two UN officials dealing with refugees fleeing violence as saying that some 1,000 Rohingya Muslims may have been killed in Myanmar’s army crackdown on the minority group.
Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, warned last week that the Southeast Asian country may be seeking to “expel” all members of the Rohingya Muslim community from its territory.
Earlier this month, the Advisory Commission on Rakhine, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, released a draft report highlighting the need for initiating independent and impartial investigations into widely-reported allegations of atrocities committed by Myanmar’s military forces against the minority group.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein as well as the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, recently called for the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the situation in Rakhine State.