The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said Monday that in 2017 Myanmar failed to properly resolve the allegations of genocide against Rohingya individuals. She said that civilian casualties have risen again in a way that indicates “further war crimes or even crimes against humanity,” and called on the public to use elections in November to “demonstrate their adherence to democratic norms.” She acknowledged that thousands of Rohingya have been deprived of voting rights and will not be able to vote in this upcoming election.
Bachelet made assertions pertaining to Resolution 42/3, which was implemented in September 2019 for the continued assessment of the “Situation of Human Rights of Rohingya Muslims and Other Minorities in Myanmar.” While human rights issues in Myanmar have been of significance to various minorities for a long time, this policy was primarily in response to military forces in Myanmar in 2017 that contributed to human rights issues in Myanmar. Though Myanmar had been working with a UN Special Rapporteur for a brief duration, since 2018 she has been prevented access to the country.
Bachelet’s speech noted that in recent times there have been “disappearances and judicial killings of civilians in different minority groups in Rakhine and Chinese states; major civilian displacement; illegal arrests; violence and death in custody; and demolition of civilian property,” while civilian deaths as a whole have been growing. She also noted that such deaths occurred in deliberate or indiscriminately carried out assaults.
Also published at the start of the 45th session of the UN on Monday was the most recent report on the state of affairs in Myanmar. U.N. ambassador to Myanmar. Kyaw Moe Tun in Geneva said that reports of violence were unfounded and that Myanmar needed “time and space” to enact democratic reforms. “It is not appropriate for unsubstantiated and unverified allegations to make their way to the U.N. study,” he told the council, adding that the Rakhine situation is “unique, with deep historical roots and not easy to understand.”
In 2017, more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled the western Rakhine state following a U.N. military crackdown. The army and government of Myanmar have repeatedly denied the allegations and have said the military is reacting to attacks by insurgents from Rohingya. More recently, government troops have been fighting rebels from the Arakan Army, a faction that is recruiting from the predominantly Buddhist majority and fighting for greater regional autonomy. According to the United Nations, tens of thousands of people were displaced, and hundreds killed. The army denied attacking civilians and proclaimed the terrorist group to be the Arakan Army.