Myanmar events ‘bear hallmarks of genocide’: UN expert


NEW YORK: A top UN rights expert warned Monday that the crackdown on Myanmar’s Rohingya minority bears “the hallmarks of genocide” and insisted the government should be held accountable. Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh sinceMyanmar launched a brutal crackdown on insurgents six months ago amid accounts of arson, murder and rape at the hands of soldiers and vigilante mobs in the mainly Buddhist country.
Myanmar has vehemently denied US and UN allegations of ethnic cleansing, insisting it was responding to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in late August. But on Monday, UN special rapporteur toMyanmar Yanghee Lee suggested that term was not strong enough.
“I am becoming more convinced that crimes committed… bear thehallmarks of genocide, and call in the strongest terms for accountability,” she told the UN Human Rights Council.
The South Korean academic, who has been barred from visitingMyanmar , voiced alarm at “credible reports” of widespread indiscriminate killings, including by burning people alive.
She pointed to “conservative estimates” that at least 6,700 Rohingya, including at least 730 children under the age of five, were killed in the first month of violence alone.
Lee echoed a call from UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein last week for the creation of a new international probe tasked with preparing criminal indictments over atrocities committed in Myanmar .
She said the UN-backed investigation should be based out of Bangladesh and should work for three years to “collect, consolidate, map, analyse and maintain evidence of human rights violations and abuses”.
The quest for accountability, she said, “must be aimed at the individuals who gave the orders and carried out violations against individuals and entire ethnic and religious groups.”


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