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Myanmar CSOs call for UN probe into rights abuses

By Kyaw Ye Lynn
May 25, 2017

Civil society organizations term UN mission probe ‘important’ for people of Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar -- Civil society organizations (CSOs) in Myanmar urged the government to fully cooperate with United Nations mission to probe into alleged human rights violations in country’s ethnic areas including western Rakhine state.

Myanmar rebuffed in March the UN decision to send an international fact-finding mission to the country to establish "the facts and circumstances" of the alleged "violations by military and security forces, and abuses" against Rohingya Muslims in particular.

50 CSOs, mostly based in Myanmar’s ethnic areas, on Thursday said the mission is important for the people of Myanmar and their shared struggle for rule of law and human rights.

“The Fact Finding Mission will help the Government of Myanmar to uphold human rights,” the groups said in a joint statement.

The groups added that it will foster a rule-of-law culture by establishing the facts and identifying perpetrators of human rights violations to prevent future atrocity crimes in Myanmar.

According to UN and human rights advocate groups, security forces have committed atrocities against Rohingya Muslim civilians, which they described may amount to crimes against humanity, during military operations after a gang killed nine police in Maungdaw area of Rakhine state in October last year.

The CSOs said similar patterns of violence and abuse have been long noted, including to the present day, in ethnic areas such as northern Kachin, eastern Kayin and northeastern Shan states.

“We fully encourage the authorities to cooperate with the Fact Finding Mission to look into the human rights situations in at least Rakhine, Kachin, Shan, and other ethnic states of Myanmar,” it said.

“We strongly support the mission to carry out their mandate.”

Following the growing international pressure, Myanmar’s police and military established their own teams to investigate the alleged abuses of Rohingya Muslims in February in addition to a commission set up by the government in December to probe the allegations.

On Tuesday, military denied the accusations that soldiers committed atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar despite evidence from the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and rights groups.

A New York-based advocate group, Human Rights Watch, said on Thursday that the army’s failure to find its troops responsible for any serious abuses demonstrates the urgent need for the government to allow unfettered access to the United Nations international fact-finding mission.

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