GENEVA (Reuters) – Myanmar's security forces may be guilty of genocide against the Muslim minority Rohingya, the top UN human rights official said on Tuesday, adding that more had fled despite an agreement between Myanmar. and Bangladesh to send them home. .
Zeid Ra & # 39; ad al-Hussein, The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that none of the 626,000 Rohingya who have fled the violence since August should be repatriated to Myanmar unless there is robust monitoring on the ground.
Myanmar's ambbadador, Htin Lynn, said his government was working with Bangladesh to guarantee the return of the displaced in about two months and that "there will be no fields."
Zeid, who described the campaign in the past as an "ethnic cleansing textbook case," addressed a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva convened by Bangladesh.
Described "consistent reports of acts of appalling barbarism committed against the Rohingya, such as the deliberate burning of people to death in their homes, murders of children and adults, indiscriminate shooting of fleeing civilians, widespread rapes of women and girls , and the burning and destruction of houses, schools, markets and mosques. "
" Can anyone rule out elements of genocide? "he told the 47 member states. forum.
Zeid urged the Council to recommend that the UN General Assembly establish a new mechanism "to badist individual criminal investigations of those responsible."
Prosecutions for violence and violations against Rohingya by security forces or civilians "seem extremely rare," Zeid said.
Marzuki Darusman, head of an independent international investigative mission in Myanmar, said by video from Malaysia: "We will go where the evidence takes us … Our approach focuses on the facts and circumstances of the accusations in Myanmar as a everything since 2011. "
His team interviewed Rohingya refugees, including children at Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh, who reported" acts of extreme brutality "and" showed signs of severe trauma, "he said.
Myanmar has not granted investigators access to Rakhine, the northern state from which the Rohingya fled, he said. "We remain hopeful that it will be granted early in 2018."
Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, who interviewed survivors in Bangladesh in November, said: "I heard heart-rending and horrific reports of badual atrocities allegedly committed in cold blood due to the lethal hatred of these people solely because of their ethnicity and religion. "
The crimes included "rape, group rape by several soldiers, forced public fun and humiliation, and badual slavery in military captivity," Patten said.
Myanmar denies having committed atrocities against the Rohingya. His envoy Htin, referring to the accounts, said: "People will say what they wanted to believe and, sometimes, they will say what they were told to say".
The United Nations defines genocide as acts designed to destroy a nation, racial or religious group in whole or in part. A United States convention requires all countries to act to stop the genocide and punish those responsible.
Stephanie Nebehay report; Edition by Alison Williams