EU Seeks UN Probe into Crimes in Arakan State

By Reuters 17 March 2017

GENEVA— The European Union called on Thursday for the United Nations to send an international fact-finding mission urgently to Burma to investigate allegations of torture, rapes and executions by the military against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

A UN report last month, based on interviews with survivors in Bangladesh, said the Burma Army and police had committed mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya in a campaign that may amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

The EU draft resolution, submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, strengthens language in an earlier draft circulating that stopped short of demanding an international probe into alleged atrocities.

The 47-member forum, currently holding a four-week session, is to vote on resolutions from March 23-24.

If adopted, the Council would “dispatch urgently an independent international fact-finding mission” to Burma to investigate violations “with a view to ensure full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims.”

Some 75,000 people have fled Arakan State to Bangladesh since Burma’s military began a security operation last October in response to what it says was an attack by Rohingya insurgents on border posts in which nine police officers were killed.

The UN Security Council will be briefed behind closed doors on Friday on the situation in Arakan State, at the request of Britain, diplomats said in New York.

The EU resolution calls on the government of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to “fully cooperate with the fact-finding mission, including by making available the findings of the domestic investigations.”

Activists say that national efforts have not been credible and have called for an international inquiry.

Burma has denied almost all allegations of human rights abuses in northern Arakan and says a lawful counterinsurgency campaign is under way.

Yanghee Lee, UN special rapporteur to Burma, told the rights council on Monday that the government may be using bureaucratic means to get rid of the Rohingya. She cited dismantling of homes and use of a household survey whereby those absent may be struck off the list that could be the only legal proof of their status.

A panel led by former UN chief Kofi Annan said earlier on Thursday that Burma should immediately start allowing Rohingya to return home and ultimately close rundown camps for the displaced.