The Associated Press GENEVA (AP) — Myanmar’s Rohingya minority has “very likely” faced crimes against humanity and possibly genocide at the hands of Myanmar security forces and their helpers, the U.N.’s top human rights body and a top U.N. official said Tuesday.
The comments came at an urgent session of the 47-member Human Rights Council, which overwhelmingly approved a resolution that said crimes against humanity “very likely” occurred in Myanmar against the Muslim minority group since a security crackdown began in August.
The crisis has left untold numbers of Rohingya killed and injured, and forced more than 626,000 to flee into neighboring Bangladesh.
Marzuki Darusman, who heads a council-mandated fact-finding mission on Myanmar that has received no access to the troubled state of Rakhine where many Rohingya once lived, chronicled a litany of allegations including the rape of young girls — some burnt to death or with their throats slit — and the mutilation of victims.
“The allegations are numerous and many of extreme severity,” Darusman said. “Some have concluded that genocide or crimes against humanity have taken place. We have not yet come to any conclusion on these issues, but we are taking such allegations very seriously and are examining them in depth.”
But the U.N. human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, challenged the council, insisting that the possibility of genocide was real.
Zeid, a Jordanian prince, cited the segregation, exclusion and discrimination faced by the Rohingya. He referred to allegations of killings by grenades, shootings at close range, stabbings and “the burning of houses with families inside.” He noted that Rohingya see themselves as a distinct ethnic group.
“Given all of this, can anyone rule out that elements of genocide may be present?” Zeid asked. “Ultimately, this is a legal determination only a competent court can make.”