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Tuesday, December 5, 2017 11:11:04 PM
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Violence against Rohingyas `extremely rare`

International criminal investigation needed; UN can’t rule out 'elements of genocide', says Human Rights Chief

International criminal investigation needed; UN can’t rule out 'elements of genocide', says Human Rights Chief
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Zeid Ra\'ad al-Hussein

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06th-Dec-2017       
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News Desk :
The United Nations' top human rights official said on Tuesday that Rohingyas were continuing to flee northern Rakhine State in Burma, where, he said, the crime of genocide by state forces could not be ruled out against the Muslim minority.
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressing a special session of the Human Rights Council, said that none of the 626,000 Rohingya who had fled violence since August should be repatriated to Burma unless there was robust monitoring on the ground, report news agencies.
Prosecutions for the violence and rapes against Rohingya "appear extremely rare", Zeid said. "Can anyone - can anyone - rule out that elements of genocide may be present?," he told the 47-member state forum in Geneva.
He listed alleged abuses against the Rohingya, including "killing by random firing of bullets, use of grenades, close range, shooting stabbings, beatings to death and the burning of houses with families inside".
The rights chief then asked: "Considering Rohingyas' self-identify as a distinct ethnic group with their own language and culture - and [that they] are also deemed by the perpetrators themselves as belonging to a different ethnic, national, racial or religious group - given all of this, can anyone rule out that elements of genocide may be present?"
In response, Myanmars ambassador told the UN human rights council the country was still finalising terms for a join working group with Bangladesh, and that the process of returning Rohingya Muslims would be launched within two months.
The Ambassador said Burma was ready to work with international partners to ensure "voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation" and resettlement of the displaced, adding: "There will be no camps."
He added that UN agencies would be involved but stopped short of guaranteeing the immediate, unimpeded access to Myanmar for UN investigators that the UN has demanded.
Until now, UN officials, including Mr Zeid, have described the violence in northern Rakhine State as "textbook ethnic cleansing".
The use of the term genocide increases international pressure on Myanmar (also called Burma) and reflects deep concern at what the UN describes as decades of discrimination and violence against the Rohingya.
"Ultimately, this is a legal determination only a competent court can make," Mr Zeid told the council session in Geneva.
"But the concerns are extremely serious, and clearly call for access to be immediately granted for further verification."
He urged the council to request that the UN General Assembly set up a mechanism "to assist individual criminal investigations of those responsible".
Genocide -- an attempt to wipe a group of people out of existence in whole or in part -- is a legally specific term understood by most to be the gravest crime against humanity.
The UN first defined it in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948. Ethnic cleansing is not recognised as an independent crime under international law.
The Rohingyas are a stateless minority who has long experienced persecution in Myanmar.
Myanmar's government rejects the term Rohingya, labelling the community "Bengalis". It says they migrated illegally from Bangladesh so should not be listed as one of the country's ethnic groups.
Bangladesh also denies they are its citizens. After the latest wave of arrivals it now hosts more than a million Rohingya.

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