UNSC must press Myanmar on refugee return process: EX-UN chief
Sat Oct 14, 2017
The former UN chief, Kofi Annan, has called on the Security Council (UNSC) to press Myanmar to facilitate the return of over 500,000 Rohingya Muslims, who were forced out of their homeland into Bangladesh amid a government-backed military crackdown.
Annan, who leads a fact-finding commission on Myanmar, told an informal UNSC meeting on Friday that Myanmar’s government must “create conditions that allow the refugees to return with dignity.”
The Annan-led commission presented in late August a report on the situation in Myanmar’s Rohingya-majority Rakhine State. It called for granting citizenship and other rights to the Rohingya Muslims, who are stateless and have long faced discrimination in the Buddhist-majority state.
Annan further said the refugees taking shelter in Bangladeshi border camps needed help to “get their homes back.”
He urged the UNSC to agree with Myanmar’s government on a refugee return “roadmap,” cautioning that if no action is taken, “we are going to have a long-term festering problem” in the region that “can be very serious, down the line.”
In the past seven weeks, an estimated 536,000 people have fled their homes in violence-hit Rakhine State and crossed into Bangladesh, amid shocking reports of Myanmar soldiers and Buddhist mobs murdering and raping civilians and torching their villages.
Myanmar’s military has been accused by the UN and rights bodies of leading a “systematic” effort to expel the maligned minority and block their return to their home country.
The UN has described the fresh wave of violence in Rakhine State as an “ethnic cleansing” against minority Rohingya Muslims, who are denied Myanmarese citizenship and branded illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
While the army has denied such charges by numerous international bodies and human rights organizations, it has also blocked independent access to the area for probe of the alleged atrocities.
The development came as Myanmar’s army claimed in a Friday statement that it is preparing to publish results of its own internal investigation into the conflict.
“An investigation team led by Defense Services Inspector General Lt-Gen Aye Win is inspecting security forces and military units (to see) whether they perform the assigned duties or not,” said the statement issued by the military’s “True News Information Team.”
“When full information is received, the official press release will be released,” it added.
A separate post published on the army chief’s Facebook page suggested troops would be cleared of abuses, claiming, “It was found that all actions conformed to the law.”(Agencies)