World Bulletin / News Desk
During recent military operations in Rakhine’s Maungdaw area, the UN and rights groups documented evidence of widespread abuses by security forces such as killings -- including of children and babies -- gang rape, brutal beatings, the burning of villages and disappearances.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, both recently called for the UN Human Rights Council to establish during its 34th session a Commission of Inquiry into the situation in Rakhine.
On Friday, 13 regional and international rights advocacy groups sent a joint open letter to permanent representatives of the Council’s member and observer states, urging them to support calls for independent investigations into rights abuses against Rohingya.
The letter reiterates that inquiries launched by the Myanmar government into the conduct of security forces have failed to demonstrate genuine independence and are therefore insufficient to address the situation.
"Enough is enough, it's time for action,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, told Anadolu Agency in an email Friday.
“For far too long, the international community has stood by while Burma's security forces compel the Rohingya to run a gauntlet of violence, systematic discrimination, statelessness, and denial of access to livelihoods and basic life-saving services,” he said, using the former name of the country.
He added that he UN and its member states need to stand up against the underlying systems of repression that underpin the destitution of the Muslim minority in northern Rakhine.
The government has said at least 106 people have been killed in a security operation launched after fatal attacks on police outposts Oct. 9 near the border.
However, Rohingya advocacy groups claim around 400 Rohingya -- described by the UN as among the most persecuted groups worldwide -- were killed, women raped and Rohingya villages torched.
Myanmar’s government has previously denied such allegations against soldiers and police, but launched an investigation after a recent report commissioned by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, stated that violations against Rohingya civilians could amount to crimes against humanity.
Hussein said, however, that the commission led by Myanmar Vice President Myint Swe -- a former military general -- is "not a credible option" to investigate atrocities against Rohingya.
Following growing local and international pressure, Myanmar announced Feb. 15 the end of military operations in the area, but a military spokesman later said clearance operations had yet to be halted.