UN team: Suu Kyi words 'bode well' for bid for Myanmar probe

2017-09-19 22:44
National League for Democracy chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi. (File: Ye Aung Thu, AFP)

National League for Democracy chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi. (File: Ye Aung Thu, AFP)

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Geneva - The leader of a team of UN human rights investigators said on Tuesday that comments by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi "bode well" for its so-far unsuccessful efforts to gain access to the country now facing an exodus of Rohingya Muslims to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Marzuki Darusman decried stepped-up violence in Myanmar over the last month that has caused more than 400 000 people to flee, and asked the UN-backed Human Rights Council for a six-month extension until next September for his team's first written report.

Addressing the council on its new fact-finding mission on Myanmar two months after becoming its chairperson, Darusman cited two main points from Suu Kyi's speech earlier on Tuesday: The "categorical readiness" of Myanmar's government to accept returnees once procedures are worked out, and its readiness to be "globally scrutinised by the international community".

"These two points bode well for the fact-finding mission," he said. "We continue to hold hope that our access to the country at one point will be resolved."

In her speech, Suu Kyi said that Myanmar does not fear international scrutiny and expressed concern about fleeing Muslims, alluding to ethnic Rohingya but without mentioning them by name.

Mass killings, torture, burning of villages

Darusman cited reports of mass killings, torture, the burning of villages and other crimes in Myanmar, but pledged his mission will be guided by principles including "independence, impartiality and objectivity".

Myanmar's government repeated its resistance to allowing in Darusman's investigators moments after he spoke. Ambassador Htin Lynn said Myanmar "reiterates its position dissociating itself" from the March council resolution that created the fact-finding mission.

Darusman, an Indonesian lawyer and human rights campaigner who previously worked on North Korea for the council, cited "indications" that Myanmar's government was "not completely cutting itself off from any communications with the fact-finding mission".

He also said members of his team were in Bangladesh, adding: "We hope to have a preliminary report soon — in the coming one week or 10 days."

Separately on Tuesday in Geneva, the International Organisation for Migration put the total number of Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh at 421 000, and UNICEF said more than a quarter of a million of those were children.

At its March session, the council agreed to "dispatch urgently" a fact-finding mission to look into alleged human rights violations and abuses by the military and security forces, particularly in Rakhine state where many Rohingya live.

Read more on:    aung san suu kyi  |  myanmar

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