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UNSC urges Myanmar to punish abusers of Muslim minority

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has called on Myanmar’s government to hold accountable the perpetrators of widespread violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the Buddhist-majority country’s northwest over the past year and a half.
The 15-member body — which includes Myanmar’s ally China — stressed in a statement on Wednesday the importance of conducting “transparent investigations” into accusations of violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine State and giving immediate aid access to the troubled region.

“The members of the Security Council, in light of the importance of undertaking transparent investigations into allegations of human rights abuses and violations, urge the government of Myanmar to fulfill, based on respect for the rule of law, its stated commitment to holding accountable perpetrators of violence, including sexual violence and abuse and violence against children,” the Council said.

The statement came days after a team of UN envoys met Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh for the first time to hear the sufferings of some 700,000 Muslims who have escaped a campaign of violence, rape, and arson by the military in Myanmar.

The UN envoys were also granted a rare visit to Rakhine.

The UNSC statement said that during the visit to Rakhine, members observed “widespread destruction of villages” and “were struck by the scale of the humanitarian crisis and remain gravely concerned by the current situation.”

The Council called on Myanmar’s government to conclude an agreement “in the coming days” with the UN refugee agency on repatriating refugees from Bangladesh and creating conditions for their “safe, voluntary and dignified return” to their homes in Rakhine.

A day before the UNSC statement, four human rights groups urged the world body to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.

The four rights groups, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and Fortify Rights, said Myanmar’s government was incapable of bringing those responsible for the brutal violence to justice.

Myanmar has come under intense criticism since its military launched a deadly crackdown against the Muslim minority in Rakhine in late 2016. Thousands of the Muslims have been killed. About 700,000 others have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since August last year, bringing with them horrifying accounts of massacres, gang rape, and arson by Myanmar’s military forces and Buddhist mobs.

The international medics who have examined the refugees have verified that their bodily injuries conform to the accounts of violence, including rape.

The UN has previously described the violence against the Rohingya as “ethnic cleansing” and possibly “genocide.”

It was unlikely that the UNSC call would be heeded. Myanmar has denied that violence has taken place. It has also bulldozed the formerly Muslim-majority villages in Rakhine and has set up encampments to settle Buddhists shuttled in from elsewhere in the country. An agreement with Bangladesh to return the Rohingya also remains stalled due to safety concerns by the Muslim refugees.

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