United Nations human rights chief cites 'elements of genocide' in Myanmar's Rohingya crisis

Rohingya refugees

She warned that rampant sexual attacks on Rohingya appeared to be "used as a tool of dehumanisation and collective punishment", citing witness accounts of women and girls tied to rocks or trees "before multiple soldiers literally raped them to death".

Bangladesh's Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed Shahriar Alam said his country remains very concerned that Myanmar has not conducted a credible national investigation into alleged human rights violations.

The UN chief pointed out an array of abuses against the Rohingyas, including allegations of dehumanising discrimination and segregation, and the horrific violence and abuse, along with the forced displacement and systematic destruction of villages, homes, property and livelihoods.

Ms. Patten told the human rights panel Tuesday that she had heard "the most heartbreaking and horrific accounts of sexual atrocities reportedly committed in cold blood out of a lethal hatred of these people exclusively on the basis of their ethnicity and religion".

Myanmar Ambasador Htin Lynn rejected the allegations and said his government was working with Bangladesh to ensure returns of the displaced in about two months.

While not mentioning the Rohingya directly, Ambassador Htin Lynn says any "dehumanization" of people in Myanmar "could be an act of extremist individuals".

"Given all of this, can anyone, can anyone rule out that elements of genocide may be present?" asked Zeid.

Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva, the site of a special session on Myanmar at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Amnesty International has also documented how Myanmar's security forces are committing wide-ranging violations against other ethnic minorities, in particular in Kachin and northern Shan States.

China has proposed a three-phase solution to address the crisis, involving ending the violence and restoring stability and order to the region, repatriating refugees, and developing long-term solutions to poverty in Rakhine state as a root cause of the conflict.

Instead, it issued a presidential statement calling on the Myanmar government to end the use of excessive military force and intercommunal violence that has devastated Rohingya communities during the military crackdowns.

Al Hussein said his office has visited and interviewed Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh three times this year.

The Human Rights Council voted 33-3 with nine abstentions on a resolution aiming to re-center the world's attention on the crisis that has left an untold number of people killed and injured and driven an estimated 626,000 Rohingya to flee into neighboring Bangladesh since August.

After months of wrangling, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a deal on November 23 to start repatriating refugees within two months.

The bench had observed that the whole issue of Rohingya Muslims has to be looked at from various angles like national security, economic interest, labour interest and also the protection of children, women, sick and innocent persons.

United Nations agencies, however, insist that the conditions for voluntary and safe repatriation of refugees do not yet exist.

"The U.N. resolution makes clear that the worldwide community retains a watchful eye over the plight of the Rohingya and demands action", said Laila Matar, senior U.N. advocate at Human Rights Watch, in a printed statement.

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