Myanmar’s Representative Calls Mission Flawed, Biased, Defends Counter Terrorist Actions by Security Forces in Rakhine State
Arguing that impunity for horrific violations against the Rohingya in Myanmar is a threat to international peace and security, the head of a human rights fact finding mission this afternoon urged the Security Council to ensure accountability for the crimes.
There can be no moving on from this crisis without addressing its root causes, all of which still exist today � primarily the presence of an unaccountable military that acts with complete impunity, Marzuki Darusman, Chair of the Independent International Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar said as he introduced the 27 August report of the Mission. The Mission was established by the Human Rights Council to ascertain the facts and circumstances of alleged abuses by security forces in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States since 2011.
The Rohingya and all of Myanmar’s people, in fact the entire world, is looking at you to take action, Mr. Darusman said. He stated that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Myanmar, and that the Mission found sufficient information to warrant the prosecution of senior officials of the national armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, on charges of genocide.
The report, he said, details clearance operations of the national armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, in six villages, which experienced massacres and other killings, including of women, children and the elderly, mass gang rape, burning and looting. The Mission verified similar operations in 54 separate locations across northern Rakhine. At least 392 villages were partially or wholly destroyed and over 725,000 Rohingya fled. He called estimates of 10,000 Rohingya deaths conservative.
Maintaining that accountability for those crimes is unattainable domestically in Myanmar, Mr. Darusman called on the Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court or create an ad hoc international criminal tribunal. He also urged the Council to adopt sanctions against relevant officials, providing the names of six Tatmadaw commanders for that purpose. He also called for the imposition of an arms embargo against the country.
This afternoon’s briefing was preceded by a procedural vote called after a letter was sent to the Council presidency from the representatives of Bolivia, China, Equatorial Guinea and the Russian Federation. Through the letter, those countries objected strongly to the briefing, stating that there was no precedence for the Council to invite a special mechanism on a country-specific issue of the Human Rights Council to brief. They argued that the meeting would erode the mandate of the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council and duplicate the work of other bodies. By the vote, however, the briefing was approved to proceed by 9 votes in favour and 3 opposed (Bolivia, China, Russian Federation) and 3 abstaining (Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan).
In statements before the procedural vote and following the briefing, the nine members of the Council who requested the meeting � CAte d’Ivoire, France, Kuwait, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom � affirmed that the massive destruction, killings and movement of people that took place in Myanmar certainly had relevance to international peace and security.
They stressed that the facts need to be known both for stabilizing the ongoing situation and for discussing how to prevent such crimes from occurring again. In that vein, the representative of CAte d’Ivoire said that the description of displaced populations in the Mission’s report reminded him of scenes that took place in his country’s upheavals, after which his people said, Never again.
The representatives of China and the Russian Federation, on the other hand, stressed that progress is being made toward resolving the complex problems in Rakhine by those who were engaging with the Myanmar Government, including the United Nations and bilateral partners that include China, which is facilitating meetings between Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Government, they said, is implementing agreements it has made and is conducting its own investigation of serious crimes that should be supported. In criticizing the credibility of the Mission’s report, they noted that its members were not able to visit Myanmar itself.
Myanmar’s representative reiterated his country’s objection to the Fact Finding Mission, saying it is flawed, biased and politically motivated from its genesis and its report only half heartedly mentioned atrocities of the Rohingya Salvation Army. Myanmar categorically rejects the inference that the legitimate counter terrorist actions by the security forces in Rakhine state were carried out with genocidal intent, he said.
Noting that his Government has resolutely rejected the International Criminal Court’s ruling, he said that the Court’s decision is made on dubious legal grounds because it applies to a situation in which domestic remedies have not yet been exhausted; in fact, his country is conducting its own investigation. Myanmar will never accept any calls to refer it to the Court, he emphasized, adding that the situation is Rakhine state in no way threatens international peace and security.
Also speaking following the briefing this afternoon were the representatives of Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Equatorial Guinea, Bolivia (Council President, speaking in his national capacity) and Bangladesh.
The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 5:46 p.m.
MA ZHAOXU (China) said a number of States sent a letter dated 18 October 2018 to the President of the Security Council (document S/2018/938) expressing their opposition to holding the meeting on the briefing by the Chairperson of the Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar. He said the United Nations Charter clearly defines the division of labour of the Organization’s organs. The Security Council must not become involved in country specific missions. There is no precedent for the Council to hear a briefing from a country specific mandate holder from the Human Rights Council. The Council must take a positive role in resolving the crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, he said, warning that the proposed meeting would only serves to further complicate the crisis. For those reasons, China opposed the briefing.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said the decision to hold the meeting would set a negative precedent for the work of the Security Council. States requesting the meeting were engaging in arm twisting and are intentionally torpedoing consensus within the Security Council instead of pursuing joint efforts to resolve the Rohingya refugee crisis. He pointed the United States withdrawal from the Human Rights Council and said that delegation now seemed to find that entity useful, a clear double standard. The activity of the Fact Finding Mission is harmful and is not based on reliable information. The Mission’s report is raw and biased, he said, and its consideration in the Security Council is harmful. As the report was already discussed in the Third Committee, its consideration in the Security Council would be a duplication of work. He stressed the key to resolving the Rohingya refugee situation is through bilateral negotiations between Myanmar and Bangladesh. As a result, the Russian Federation will vote against holding the meeting.
KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the countries that signed a 16 October 2018 letter (document S/2018/926) requesting the meeting, said the Mission’s report is the most authoritative account of the human rights violations occurring in Myanmar and detailed the events that led to the forceful displacement of more the 700,000 refugees into Bangladesh. The Mission’s findings note that gross human rights violations have been committed in Myanmar since 2011 that amount to some of the gravest crimes under international law. Ensuring the prevention of such crimes � genocide and crimes against humanity � is one of the reasons the United Nations and Security Council were established. The situation in Myanmar clearly endangers international peace and security and it is without doubt the Council’s responsibility to deliberate on how to proceed. She said she would vote in favour of holding the meeting.
The Security Council then approved the holding of the meeting by a vote of 9 in favour (CAte D’Ivoire, France, Kuwait, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States) to 3 against (Bolivia, China, Russian Federation) with 3 abstentions (Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan).
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLA�Z (Bolivia), speaking in explanation of vote, said he voted against the holding of the meeting as there is no precedent by which a special mechanism of the Human Rights Council can report to the Security Council. It is essential to avoid duplication of the work within the United Nations, he said, adding that the Security Council is not a space to consider issues of human rights as those matters must be considered at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
MARZUKI DARUSMAN, Chairperson of the United Nations Independent International Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar, said that its detailed findings in 444 pages establishing the facts regarding recent alleged human rights violations in Myanmar are based on an investigation that scrupulously adhered to international best practices on human rights fact finding, and include a full account of its own methodology. The report characterizes the recent events in Rakhine State as a human rights catastrophe that was foreseeable and planned; it described in detail the clearance operations of the national armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, in six villages, marked by large scale massacres and other killings, including of women, children and the elderly, mass gang rape, burning and looting. The Mission verified similar operations in 54 separate locations across northern Rakhine. At least 392 villages were partially or wholly destroyed. Over 725,000 Rohingya fled. He called estimates of 10,000 Rohingya deaths conservative. The attacks were systematic. They were conducted in total disregard for human life and dignity, in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law, he said, noting that the attacks were preceded by long persecution of the Rohingya.
The Mission, he said, also found similar patterns of serious violations by the Myanmar military elsewhere in Myanmar, notably in Kachin and Shan states. Many of the serious violations described in our report undoubtedly amount to the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, threatening the peace, security and well being of the world, he stated. Sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials of the Tatmadaw on charges of genocide had been found. The contempt shown by the Tatmadaw for human life and international law has had a devastating impact on the human rights, security and development of Myanmar and continues to threaten minorities. It is also a threat to regional stability and to international peace and security. To end such threats, and to prevent further atrocities, accountability is needed. Without such accountability, there can be no sustainable, safe and dignified return of the Rohingya to Myanmar, nor can there be inter community reconciliation, he stressed.
As the Tatmadaw have been placed above the law in Myanmar, accountability must come from the international community, he said. The Council must therefore refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or another international ad hoc tribunal, he stressed. The Council and its individual members should also impose targeted sanctions against those responsible for serious crimes under international law. Six had been identified in the report. He called for an arms embargo on the country and a prohibition of all transactions with Tatmadaw affiliated enterprises. He also called for a comprehensive, independent inquiry into the United Nations involvement in Myanmar since 2011 to learn lessons that can help the Organization prevent future catastrophes. The events in Myanmar can serve as a textbook example of how to deliberately foment conflict and extremism. These steps can and almost certainly will, be learned and deployed in other countries against other populations, he warned.
Myanmar therefore presents precisely the kind of threat to peace and security that the Council was created to address, he said. There can be no moving on from this crisis without addressing its root causes, all of which still exist today � primarily the presence of an unaccountable military that acts with complete impunity. The Rohingya and all of Myanmar’s people, in fact the entire world, is looking at you to take action, he said.
KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said Mr. Darusman’s briefing concerns allegations of the gravest crimes against international law. Exactly 68 years ago the United Nations was founded, she said, asking what the purpose of the Security Council is if it cannot deal with some of the worst things a Government can do to its people. She said the situation in Rakhine State is an enduring catastrophe and the Rohingya population continues to face discrimination and denial of its right to citizenship. Rohingyas left in Rakhine are not safe and those in refugee camps in Bangladesh cannot return without assurances of their safety. She said little has been done to address the root causes of the crisis and that United Nations agencies continue to be denied access to large parts of Rakhine State. The conditions for safe repatriation of the Rohingya are not in place, she said, calling on Myanmar to cooperate fully with the United Nations on the matter. She commended Bangladesh for hosting refugees and for cooperating in good faith with Myanmar. Rakhine is the most egregious example of the Burmese military’s actions, but it is not its only one, she said, adding that the Security Council must act to uphold the United Nations Charter. Myanmar’s domestic Commission of Enquiry cannot provide a real avenue for accountability, she warned, noting that previous commissions have preserved the military’s long standing impunity. She said the briefing was compelling and presented crimes that echoed those committed in Rwanda and Srebrenica, situations in which the Security Council acted to ensure those responsible for crimes were held accountable.
LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands) said it is important that the Security Council hear directly from relevant human rights bodies as it has the authority to refer situations to the International Criminal Court. The report of the Fact Finding Mission is deeply worrying, she said, noting that the report is based on in depth interviews with victims and eyewitnesses and shows a clear pattern of conduct by the military, border guard police and vigilantes. The Mission shows convincingly that the gravest crimes under international law have been committed in Rakhine State and that the factors allowing the inference of genocidal intent are present. The report highlights the need for holding those responsible for crimes accountable, she said, adding that justice for the victims is an end in and of itself. Efforts towards accountability can ensure that the Rohingya feel safe enough to voluntarily return to their homes in Myanmar. She said holding perpetrators accountable for the most serious crimes is beyond the mandate of the Government of Myanmar and that the International Criminal Court was created precisely to act in such a scenario. The international community must use all tools available to it to create meaningful change on the ground, including targeted sanctions and an arms embargo.
NIKKI R. HALEY (United States), asking what is being done currently to protect the Rohingya in Myanmar, noted that the crimes described in the report parallel those described in an investigation by her country. Such facts cannot be avoided by those who deny them. Only accountability for the crimes against the Rohingya will serve the cause of peace and reconciliation in the country. It is not about finger pointing, it is about bringing about accountability. The issue, she argued, is certainly appropriate for the Security Council � the forcible movement of over 750,000 people certainly has bearings on international peace and security. Describing persecution of Rohingya, she said that it must end and the group must be afforded full citizenship. The military, in addition, must be reined in by civilian control. She also called for the release of journalists jailed in Myanmar. Justice, not vengeance, not payback, is necessary in order to allow Burma to heal, she said.
FRANCOIS DELATTRE (France), commending the Mission on its report, recalled his country’s long term concern over the situation of the Rohingya in Burma. He said that establishing facts is essential for justice and reconciliation, and the Security Council cannot look away from the facts when they are determined. It must take up its responsibilities. Action or lack thereof is being looked at very carefully by those who might consider committing such crimes in the future. The Council must remain mobilized to ensure the implementation of recent agreements so that Rohingya still in Myanmar and those in Bangladesh can remain or return to their homes in safety. Affording of citizenship and equality of rights for all are also critical among other recommendations of the report. Commending the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for opening a preliminary investigation on the issue, he called for all States to cooperate with the effort. As the situation of the Rohingya is an affront to human values, France is ready to consider all the options available to the Council to remedy the situation, he stated.
BADER ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) said that the briefing about the Fact Finding Mission has only reaffirmed the conclusions of the international community, condemning acts that contradict international norms and laws, witnessed in Rakhine. Myanmar bears the primary responsibility to protect its citizens and ensure that excessive military force will not be used again. My country’s delegation did not request the convening of this session to blame the Government of Myanmar but rather because of our principled and firm position of resolving conflicts by peaceful means, he added. Myanmar’s Government has yet to implement all the steps and demands specified in the Council’s presidential declaration, and the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Rakhine State to address the root causes of the crisis. The return of the Rohingya minority to their homes cannot begin without taking a series of measures, which are based on the building of trust to ensure that such return is both safe and dignified. The Rohingya must be guaranteed rights, he said, urging the Council to ensure accountability for crimes committed.
OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said that despite early warning signs, too little was done too late to prevent the crisis in Rakhine State from evolving. There should be important lessons to draw from this, he said. Since the peak of the crisis in August 2017, the Security Council took some small but important steps, including a presidential statement and a Council visit to the region, but little real progress has been achieved on the ground. He said the United Nations and its humanitarian partners must be allowed full and unhindered access to Rakhine State, and that conditions must be created to ensure that all those who fled can return to their place of origin in a safe, voluntary and sustainable manner. All avenues must be pursued to ensure accountability for crimes committed, he said, emphasizing that the Fact Finding Mission’s report should be a turning point. With the facts established, the Council must take meaningful action on accountability, including consultations on a resolution that would refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. Refugee camps outside Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh must get continued support, he said, emphasizing the urgency of more funding. He concluded by saying that Myanmar is at a crossroads at which it must choose between more repression and international isolation, on the one hand, or justice, peace and prosperity, on the other. The Government cannot be expected to solve everything overnight, but urgent steps must be taken to show commitment and gain credibility, such as through the immediate pardoning and release of two detained Reuters journalists.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said that the alarming findings presented in the report show that the problem is grave and should be dealt with accordingly. She called on all sides to bring an immediate end to the violence and called for the protection of all civilians without discrimination. The Myanmar Government must take all measures to defuse tensions between communities and grant full and unconditional humanitarian access without delay. She also called on the Myanmar Government and the security forces to ensure that security, the rule of law and accountability prevail in Myanmar, including in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States. Myanmar must swiftly implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State. Myanmar’s Independent Commission of Enquiry, established on 30 July 2018, should contribute to ensuring accountability by working in an independent, objective and transparent way. She further stressed need to establish conducive conditions for the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return and reintegration of displaced persons to Rakhine. She urged the Government to immediately ease restrictions on freedom of movement.
TAYE ATSKESELASSIE AMDE (Ethiopia) said the Security Council’s constructive engagement has a positive impact on addressing the humanitarian situation in Rakhine State. The human rights situation in Myanmar is a matter of grave and serious concern. The situation is complex and its root causes must be addressed. Ethiopia decided to abstain from the vote on holding the meeting, he said, adding that his country recognizes the efforts by the Government of Myanmar to address the crisis and called for their acceleration. He noted the work of Special Envoy of the Secretary General, Christine Schraner Burgener, who emphasized that accountability and inclusive dialogue are important pillars for national reconciliation. The Security Council must continue to support her efforts, he said, also noting bilateral collaboration between Bangladesh and Myanmar to repatriate refugees. The enormous burden shouldered by Bangladesh is commendable, he said, calling for increased financial support to that country. He closed by saying that without Security Council unity a solution to the crisis in Myanmar will not be found.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) expressed his deep concern over the situation faced by Rohingya forced to flee into Bangladesh. He said Bangladesh is ensuring housing and humanitarian support to a large number of refugees and called for increased efforts to ensure their dignified return home. Highlighting the appointment of the Special Envoy on Myanmar, he said her work has shown Member States the terrible situations faced by refugees. The situation on the ground is not conducive to a dignified life for young refugees, he warned, calling on the international community to respect the generous hospitality of Bangladesh and help accelerate the return of Rohingya to their homes. Since the appointment of the Special Envoy, Bangladesh and Myanmar have engaged in dialogue and Member States must allow the Envoy to conduct in depth analysis of the situation. Underscoring the importance of meetings held between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government of Myanmar, he urged the Security Council to support all initiatives aimed at achieving peaceful solutions to the thorny situation and thanked all international partners providing assistance to Rohingya refugees.
GUSTAVO MEZA CUADRA (Peru) said he supported the convening of the meeting as responses to the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar remain insufficient. Efforts must promote justice, accountability and reconciliation, he said, thanking Bangladesh for its efforts to assist Rohingya refugees. He stressed the role of regional and subregional organizations, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for their contributions to reaching a solution to the crisis. Peru awaits the conclusion of bilateral meetings between Bangladesh and Myanmar and stresses the urgency to produce specific results on the ground that will allow for the return of refugees to their homes. He recognized the complexity of the situation and took note of the Fact Finding Mission’s report which found reasonable indications that genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed in Myanmar. He stressed the importance of relevant Human Rights Council resolutions calling for an independent mechanism to study violations of international law in Myanmar.
KACOU HOUADJA LA�ON ADOM (CAte d’Ivoire) said that the description of massively displaced populations in the Mission’s report reminded him of scenes that took place in his country’s upheavals, after which his people said, Never again. Further such tragedies must be prevented and that is why he associated with those who called for the Council’s meeting. There are immense challenges remaining in Myanmar, which the Council must also deal with. The country must facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and must protect human rights, including by bringing the perpetrators of serious crimes to justice. He commended the Human Rights Council’s activity in that light, and called for a dignified, safe return of refugees. In addition to ending impunity, implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding is necessary. He paid tribute to Bangladesh for their assistance to the refugees from Myanmar and called on the international community to increase its aid as well.
KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan) said that the situation in Myanmar and that of the Rohingya refugees remains one of the most critical concerns of the international community. The world today is witnessing one of the most serious catastrophes, he added, noting with concern the displacement of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees. The invitation to the Fact Finding Mission, which remains a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, to brief the Security Council, is beyond its mandate. For this reason, Kazakhstan abstained during the procedural voting. He condemned the atrocities committed in Rakhine, also adding: The reported flagrant, massive and systematic violations of human rights have been shocking. The return of Rohingya refugees to their homes is not possible unless the authorities of Myanmar expedite the process of creating the necessary conditions and providing full security assurances. Rohingya refugees must also have access to jobs, education, and healthcare. It is critical to address issues of citizenship and ensure freedom of movement in Myanmar for the Rohingya Muslims. He commended the Government of Bangladesh for helping such an unprecedented magnitude of refugees and providing them with shelter, medical care and food.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that once again the Council had abandoned consensus on an important topic because of the machinations of some delegations. He added that the legitimacy of the report is in serious doubt, it is confrontational in nature and the representatives of the Mission never visited Myanmar. Those who have pushed for discussion of the report have also ignored the fact that reputable international representatives are cooperating with the investigation being conducted by Myanmar itself. Instead, the Rohingya are being used as an excuse to push pressure on a sovereign State, inevitably including sanctions, something that his country opposes. Describing steps Myanmar has taken to ameliorate conditions for the Rohingya in the country, he supported the work of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General, noting that his proposals have been accepted by the Government. The problems in Rakhine are complex and can only be resolved by dialogue between all stakeholders there, he stressed. For that reason, delay of refugee returns is counterproductive. The international community should provide assistance to all sectors and States to implement agreements that have already been reached and allow refugees to return in safety and dignity. The terrorists in Rakhine, namely the Rohingya Salvation Army, must also be dealt with. For all such purposes all parties must be engaged with in an atmosphere of respect. Today’s meeting did not advance such goals.
MA ZHAOXU (China) said that today’s meeting broke the unity of the Council and ignored the fact that progress is being made in resolving the problems in Rakhine State, where, he underlined, United Nations agencies have been allowed access. Describing steps that Myanmar is taking to implement agreements, he added that it is important that such measures be recognized. Paying tribute to the assistance provided by Bangladesh to the refugees, he called it and Myanmar friendly neighbours of China. His country has been engaged with both to help them face the challenges. In meetings with both facilitated by his country, Myanmar pledged to develop a timetable for repatriation of refugees. Meanwhile, China is providing assistance to both countries to improve conditions for refugees and returnees. The international community must respect the sovereignty of Myanmar and appreciate the complexity of issues in Rakhine that must be resolved in dialogue with the Government. Development is the fundamental solution to the crisis and that is where the international community could provide the most valuable assistance. Noting the investigation of serious crimes being pursued by the Myanmar authorities, he affirmed that the Government must bring about justice based on the facts and its sovereign activities, and not through a Mission that has not visited the area.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLA�Z (Bolivia) reasserted his deep concern over acts of violence in Myanmar. Such violence cannot go unpunished and those responsible must be brought to justice before the appropriate courts. He said all Government offices in Myanmar must cooperate with the Independent Commission of Enquiry and highlighted the efforts of regional partners to promote dialogue. He said ministerial level discussions convened by China and bilateral meetings between Bangladesh and Myanmar have led to agreement on basic principles to resolve the crisis. It is important to strengthen work towards the repatriation of refugees, he said, stressing the relevance of cooperation between Myanmar, UNDP and UNHCR. The international community must provide all possible support to Bangladesh and Myanmar in efforts to ensure the return of refugees to their places of origin. He acknowledged the efforts of Bangladesh in assisting refugees and said the United Nations must do its utmost to assist host communities in Bangladesh. Responding to comments made by the representative of the United States, he said Member States can either work towards achieving mutual respect or towards using the United Nations for political ends. Bolivia will not ask anybody for permission regarding how to behave or how to act, he said, adding that the United Nations must not be used for political ends.
HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar) said today is the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, but the Council is meeting in defiance of the purposes and principles of the Organization’s Charter and the Council’s standing rules and procedures, as well as against all logic and fairness of human conscience. We are witnessing the erosion of the moral and institutional integrity of the United Nations as a result of the blatant attempt by some members of the Council to hijack the human rights issue for their political purposes, he said, joining other Council members in strongly objecting to the abuse of established Council practice. He recalled his country’s objection to the Fact Finding Mission, saying it was flawed, biased and politically motivated from its genesis. Its one sided report confirmed Myanmar’s concerns, he said, noting that an unedited version was released in haste on 27 August, a day before the Council’s public debate on the situation in his country. The report’s methodology was flawed and did not shed new light on the problem, he added.
The humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State was ignited by unprovoked and premeditated attacks against 30 police outposts and a military battalion headquarters by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army terrorist group in August 2017 and October 2016, he said. Those massacred included security personnel and hundreds of innocent civilians, including Hindu villagers, other ethnic minorities and pro Government Muslims. Atrocities carried out by those terrorists prompted thousands to flee to other parts of Rakhine State as well as a massive exodus of Muslims to a neighbouring country, he said, emphasizing that the crisis did not affect the Muslim community alone. The Fact Finding Mission reluctantly and half heartedly mentioned those atrocities in its report, he said, noting that he was just bringing the naked truth to Council members.
On accountability, he said the Government established an Independent Commission of Enquiry that will investigate allegations of human rights violations and related issues following terrorist attacks carried out by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on 9 October 2016 and 25 August 2017 with a view to seeking accountability and reconciliation. It will carry out its mandate with independence, impartiality and objectivity, and it will submit its report within a year. We are willing and able to take on the accountability issues for any alleged human rights violation where there is sufficient evidence, he said, emphasizing the need to give the Independent Commission both time and space. Legal action has been taken against military and police officers and civilians who were found to be in breach of standard operating procedures and rules of engagement following the Inn Din incident, he added. Other administrative action has also been taken against senior Tatmadaw officers responsible for overseeing security operations in Rakhine.
Myanmar categorically rejects the inference that the legitimate counter terrorist actions by the security forces in Rakhine State were carried out with genocidal intent, he said. Such a conclusion is based on unverified circumstantial evidence with no sound legal proof. Recalling that the Government has resolutely rejected the International Criminal Court’s ruling of 6 September 2018 in connection with Rakhine state, he emphasized that Myanmar is not a party to the Rome Statute and that the Court has no jurisdiction over Myanmar whatsoever. The Court’s decision, made on dubious legal grounds, applies to a situation in which domestic remedies have not yet been exhausted. Myanmar will never accept any calls to refer it to the Court, he emphasized. Unilateral coercive measures adopted without regard to the objective situation in Myanmar, and the imposition of politically motivated external pressure, will be detrimental to the Government’s goodwill and cooperation with the international community, he said, adding that the situation is Rakhine State in no way threatens international peace and security and that the Fact Finding Mission’s report is unconstructive and full of prejudice.
Quoting his President’s United Nations Day message, he said Myanmar is still in transition to becoming a fully functioning democracy. Its leader, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has chosen a path of national reconciliation and national consensus that requires tremendous patience and political wisdom. Myanmar fully agreed with the Special Envoy of the Secretary General when she underscored the need for patience in her end of mission statement on 20 October. Patience and trust building is key to the success of common efforts to find a viable and sustainable solution to the humanitarian crisis and the whole issue of northern Rakhine State.
He concluded by drawing Council members’ attention to pamphlets distributed at yesterday’s meeting of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the General Assembly where delegates heard presentations by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar and by the Chair of the Fact Finding Mission. Those pamphlets insulted a Member State and violated the code of conduct of United Nations staff. Hate speech and provocation is occurring in the very room where delegations should be working together for peace, harmony and tolerance. He added that the people of Myanmar alone will decide their destiny.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said his Government’s overriding priority in the Rohingya humanitarian crisis is to ensure the voluntary and sustainable return of the forcibly displaced Rohingya to their ancestral homes in safety and dignity. As long as the conditions in Myanmar allow for it, Bangladesh will put in place all possible arrangements to facilitate the voluntary return of Rohingya. Dismantling the remaining camps for internally displaced persons in Rakhine State and allowing those stranded along the borders between both countries to return home without fear of reprisal would be a critical confidence building measure.
He said his Government presented three recommendations during last month’s General Assembly General Debate. First, Myanmar must abolish discriminatory laws, policies and practices against the Rohingya. Second, Myanmar must create an environment conducive to building trust and guarantee the protection and rights for all Rohingya, including providing a path to citizenship. Finally, Myanmar must prevent atrocity crimes against Rohingya by ensuring accountability and justice. He said Bangladesh has no doubt that the violence and persecution suffered by the Rohingya are tantamount to the greatest crimes under international law. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister spoke with full responsibility when she termed those crimes as genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
The Fact Finding Mission’s report presents compelling evidence that crimes against the Rohingya in Rakhine State were committed by Myanmar security forces with genocidal intent, he said, adding that the international community must not absolve itself of its responsibility to seek justice for the Rohingya. However, it is the primary responsibility of Myanmar to ensure justice for atrocity crimes. The establishment of an independent and impartial judicial process in Myanmar is a critical building block for democratic consolidation. He said that in the event of repeated obstruction of justice at the domestic level, the international community must consider good practices from comparable situations and other possible means to pave the way towards accountability.
The Security Council must give due consideration to the possibility of adopting a resolution on the matter. It would be an affront to the victims to relegate action of the [Fact Finding Mission] report solely to the General Assembly. He urged the international community to seriously consider setting up a trust fund for victims, pending a judicial decision on their repatriation or compensation. As a State Party to the Rome Statute, Bangladesh would cooperate with the International Criminal Court in pursuance of its jurisdiction on forced deportation of the Rohingya from Rakhine state. He closed by calling on the Council to act as the custodian of the Rohingya humanitarian crisis until a durable solution is reached.
Source: United Nations