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US Rohingya findings 'consistent' with UN report

Some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled over the border to Bangladesh [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 August, 2018

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While not explicitly referencing genocide, US ambassador to the UN said that the State Department investigation findings on the Myanmar crackdown were 'consistent' with that of the damning UN report.

Findings of US State Department investigation on the massacres of the Rohingya minority by the Myanmar military were consistent with that of a UN report released this week, Washington's ambassador to the UN said on Tuesday.

Speaking to the UN Security Council, Nikki Haley said "the world can no longer avoid the difficult truth of what happened".

While the term genocide was not used, Haley added that of the more than a thousand randomly selected Rohingya Muslims surveyed, "fully one fifth" witnessed more than 100 victims being killed or injured. More than half had witnessed sexual violence, 45 percent had witnessed a rape and 82 percent saw a killing.

"The report identifies one group as the perpetrator of the overwhelming majority of these crimes: the Burmese military and security forces," Haley said, referring to the US report.

The Security Council must hold to account the perpetrators responsible adding, "the whole world is watching what we do next and if we will act".

The 90-page report marked the first explicit UN call for Myanmar officials to face genocide charges over their brutal crackdown against the Rohingya minority, highlighting how the military carried out mass killings and gang rapes with "genocidal intent".

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN report deserved serious consideration and that accountability was necessary for genuine reconciliation between ethnic groups in Myanmar.

Guterres added the report by the independent experts found "patterns of gross human rights violations and abuses" committed by the security forces, which it said "undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law".

International cooperation would be "critical" to ensuring accountability, he added.

Some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled over the border to Bangladesh, since last August, to escape a bloody military crackdown that has left a trail of torched villages in its wake as refugees allege murder and rape by Myanmar's armed forces.

Troops have been accused of rape, killing, torture and the burning of Rohingya homes, which the UN and the US have described the army crackdown as "ethnic cleansing".

The government has denied the accusations, instead blaming the violence on Rohingya insurgents alleging they attacked security posts triggering reprisals. It is the latest exodus of the population that has long been denied citizenship and other basic rights.

But in Monday's report, the UN mission insisted the army tactics had been "consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats".

"The crimes in Rakhine State, and the manner in which they were perpetrated, are similar in nature, gravity and scope to those that have allowed genocidal intent to be established in other contexts," the report said.

The investigators called on the UN Security Council to refer the Myanmar situation to the International Criminal Court, or for an ad hoc international criminal tribunal to be created.

They also recommended an arms embargo and "targeted individual sanctions against those who appear to be most responsible."

Both the UN and the US have said that the violence amounts to ethnic cleansing. 

A report released two months ago by Amnesty International found that "the  ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya population was achieved by a relentless and systematic campaign in which the Myanmar security forces unlawfully killed thousands of Rohingya, including young children".

It also accused security forces of sexual violence, torture, forced displacement and burning markets and farmland that starved communities and forced them to flee.

"These crimes amount to crimes against humanity under international law, as they were perpetrated as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Rohingya population," the report said.

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