Myanmar’s continued suspected targeting of civilians in its states of Rakhine and Chin could constitute other war crimes and crimes against humanity, The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights hassaid
Michelle Bachelet on Monday demanded action to correct serious rights violations suffered by Myanmar’s Rohingya minority in particular.
Military operations in 2017 forced some 750,000 Rohingya to flee the state devastated by the Rakhine conflict in Bangladesh in the violence that now sees Myanmar facing genocide charges in the UN high court.
Speaking at the opening of the 45th Geneva Human Rights Council, Bachelet stated that abuses against Rohingya and other minorities in the country were continuing.
“People from the Rakhine, Chin, Mro, Daignet and Rohingya communities are increasingly affected by the armed conflict in the Rakhine and Chin states,” Bachelet said.
She noted “extrajudicial disappearances and killings of civilians; mass displacement of civilians; arbitrary arrests, torture and death in custody; and destruction of civilian property”.
The Rohingya Crisis: The relocation plan faces opposition
Bachelet said government administrators were now reclassifying the areas where Rohingya villages were formerly located, removing village names from official maps and potentially changing the way land could be used.
“This must end immediately and the previous situation must be restored,” she said.
Satellite imagery and witness accounts show areas in northern Rakhine have been burned in recent months – something disputed by the Myanmar government.
“This only underscores the need for independent, field investigations,” she said.
A Myanmar army spokesman did not respond to phone calls from Reuters news agency, asking for comment.
The Myanmar Army has justified its 2017 operations as a means to eradicate Rohingya fighters following attacks against about a dozen security checkpoints and police stations.
Rohingya are widely seen as “illegal immigrants” in Myanmar, denied citizenship and rights.
Bachelet stressed that the Rohingya majority will not be able to vote in the upcoming November elections, calling the situation “disappointing”.
“The vast majority of Rohingya will be prevented from running in the elections, as they have been deprived of their previously recognized rights to vote and to run for office,” she said.
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