Myanmar : UN Findings on Human Rights Lack Credibility

Heavy artillery was being used in the offensives, U.N. Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In Rakhine state, Myanmar appeared to be pursuing a policy of forced starvation to make life there unsustainable for the Rohingya, Lee said.

They also said any attempt to deny the atrocities being committed in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states was "untenable", and pushed for an independent body to start collecting evidence to prosecute those responsible at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The mission's report was based on over 600 in-depth interviews with victims and witnesses.

In addition the team has analysed satellite imagery, photographs and video footage taken within Myanmar.

In a report, United Nations investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity. "We have hundreds of credible accounts of the most harrowing nature".

Almost 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since August, crossing into Bangladesh with stories of murder, rape and arson at the hands of soldiers and Buddhist mobs in Rakhine state. "Others were hacked to death".

Zaw Htay went on to say that the genocide and ethnic cleansing accusations that Lee and the fact-finding commission have raised could serve as fodder for ARSA members based just over the border in Bangladesh to incite further terrorist attacks.

"Whether or not we consider that the crimes committed amount to crimes against humanity or genocide, this should not delay our resolve to act and to act immediately".

The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.

A girl from the Pauktaw township stands in front of her family's shelter in a Rohingya internally displaced persons (IDP) camp outside Sittwe May 15, 2013. "Importantly, it will be impossible for anyone to claim where they are from or describe where they had previously lived if the region's landscape has been so significantly altered".

The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has strongly criticized the global community for ignoring atrocities committed by Myanmar authorities, accusing them of burying their "head in the sand".

United Nations human rights experts investigating a possible genocide in Myanmar have said that Facebook had played a role in spreading hate speech against the majority-Muslim Rohingya minority.

Reuters reports that in an interim submission to the U.N. Human Rights Council, fact-finding mission chair Marzuki Darusman emphasized the "determining role" of social media networks in the conflict, which he said "substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict" in Myanmar.

  • Joey Payne