International community overlooked predictable and preventable atrocities by the Myanmar authorities against the Rohingyas over the years, which cost the minority people their lives, homes and dignity, UN under secretary general Adama Dieng said in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Despite the numerous warnings made of the risk of atrocity crimes, he said, ‘the international community has buried its head in the sand. This has cost the Rohingya population of Myanmar their lives, their dignity and their homes.’
Stressing the need for strong political will and comprehensive efforts by the international community, Adama, also special adviser to the UN secretary general on the prevention of genocide, said that perpetrators of atrocities in Myanmar could be taken to the International Criminal Court if the permanent members of the UN Security Council did not use veto.
‘International crimes were committed in Myanmar. Rohingya Muslims have been killed, tortured, raped, burnt alive and humiliated, solely because of who they are,’ he said. ‘All the information I have received indicates that the intent of the perpetrators was to cleanse northern Rakhine state of their existence, possibly even to destroy the Rohingya as such, which, if proven, would constitute the crime of genocide.’
He urged the international community in general, China, India and ASEAN in particular, to play a role to immediately stop atrocities in Rakhine. ‘We owe this to the Rohingya population.’
He also urged the international community, in particular the United Nations Security Council, to consider different accountability options.
When asked if nonparty status of Myanmar to the ICC would hinder efforts to take the perpetrators to the ICC, Adama, who was a registrar to the ICC in the past, said Sudan and Libya were taken to the ICC in spite of becoming nonparty.
Mentioning example of prosecuting former Chad dictator Hissène Habré for charges of crimes by regional African Union court, he said ASEAN leaders ‘may decide to set up an extraordinary court’ in the case of Myanmar.
The world must show that they did not have ‘sufficient appetite’ to tolerate barbaric acts committed in Rakhine, he said, expressing hope that China and India would use their leverage as regional powers as well as demonstrate moral leadership.
There must be accountability for the crimes committed, Adama said, adding that he was perplexed by the denial of the widespread commission of serious crimes that had characterised the response of the Myanmar authorities.
Adama also stressed the need for collecting and preserving evidences by persons and professionals with judicial mind for prosecution of people involved in crimes against humanity and genocide in Myanmar in future.
Stressing the need for addressing root causes of the crisis mentioned by the Rakhine Advisory Commission including citizenship and fundamental human rights of Rohingya, he said with observing that the fate of the Rohingya were sealed with persecution and exclusion since the day they were born.
Creating the conditions for the Rohingya population to return home with same rights as any other citizen of Myanmar, Adama, who visited Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, said the international community required to discharge responsibility to protect this population from the risk of further atrocity crimes.
Urging all quarters, including Bangladesh authorities, to provide education and livelihood opportunities to Rohingya community, he said, they endured what no human beings should have to endure.
Adama left Dhaka
on Tuesday ending his seven-day visit starting on March 7.
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