Did UN ignore warnings of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya?

Kalerkantho Online   

18 October, 2017 15:53 PM

Did UN ignore warnings of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya?

Nearly 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since late August. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

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Eleven-year-old Hedayatullah witnessed the killing of his two brothers. His mother said his nightmares started soon after, but they have actually been decades in the making.

Long before the violence that left Hedayatullah deeply traumatized and sheltering in a Bangladesh refugee camp, he and his family lived an unspeakable life in Myanmar's Northern Rakhine state.

The discrimination and abuse they and other Muslim Rohingya endured has been well-documented by advocates and UN human rights officials, many of whom have warned that their treatment could amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

But according to internal documents and multiple sources consulted by CBC News, there are signs several UN figures and other international actors — including a key Canadian official — have long been reticent to pressure Myanmar on the rights of the Rohingya.

There are also allegations that some officials within the system ignored the warnings of ethnic cleansing altogether.

"The conditions were ripe for more mass atrocity crimes against the Rohingya population … The writing was on the wall and unfortunately, there was no action," said Matthew Smith, a human rights advocate who has long watched Myanmar.

The UN categorically rejects these allegations, in one case calling them "baseless and unsubstantiated" and part of a "media smear campaign."

But the lapses in this "never again" era have invited uneasy comparisons to UN failures in Sri Lanka and Rwanda, which carried great human costs. They also appear to have pushed the UN to try to make changes to the way it operates in Myanmar.

But not soon enough, say critics.

"I don't want the UN to get away with it yet again," said one source who spoke to CBC News and did not wish to be identified.


Source: CBC