UN Human Rights Council condemns violations against Rohingya

Sabber in conversation with a human rights activist in Kolkata

Supreme Court to Resume Hearing on Deportation of Rohingyas Today

Speaking in Geneva at a special session on Myanmar at the U.N. Human Rights Council, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein says genocide is a legal concept and only a competent court can determine whether the actions of the government of Myanmar against the Rohingya qualify as genocide.

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

The UN rights chief yesterday called for a fresh global investigation into Myanmar's abuses against its Rohingya population, warning of possible "elements of genocide".

The Myanmar envoy said that his government was working with Bangladesh to ensure returns of the displaced in about two months and "there will be no camps".

The measure broke little new ground but did instruct the United Nations human rights office to assess the level of cooperation of Myanmar's government with United Nations rights monitors and other experts.

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.

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

Witnesses in refugee camps reported a slew of crimes - saying people have burned others to death, carried out murders, raped women and girls and burned homes, schools, markets and mosques.

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.

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The council rarely holds special sessions, which can only be convened at the request of at least a third of its 47 member states, or 16 countries.

Bangladesh, which along with Saudi Arabia had requested the special session, meanwhile voiced disappointment that Tuesday's resolution was not adopted by consensus, given the severity of the crisis.

Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh's junior foreign affairs minister, told the session in Geneva that his country was hosting almost one million "Myanmar nationals" following executions and rapes.

After months of hard negotiations, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a deal in late-November to begin repatriating refugees within two months.

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

Zeid meanwhile lamented the refusal inside Myanmar but also by some worldwide players to even name the Rohingyas, creating "a shameful paradox: they are denied a name, while being targetted for being who they are".

Marzuki Darusman, head of the independent worldwide fact-finding mission, said by video from Malaysia: "We will go where the evidence leads us".

The Supreme Court on Tuesday will resume the hearing on deportation of Rohingyas to Myanmar after the centre had called the immigrant refugees a threat to national security.

"But it needs to ensure that its rhetoric is matched by its will to prevent further mistreatment, forced returns, and assaults to the human rights and dignity of the Rohingya", she said.

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