Rohingya rights groups: Myanmar report denies genocide

Rights groups for the Rohingya Muslim minority on Thursday hit out against a government-backed commission report that denied genocide had been committed against the community.

In a joint press statement, the Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU) and European Rohingya Council (ERC) "vehemently denounced" the findings of the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE), that evidence was insufficient or nonexistent to establish the genocidal intent behind atrocities against the Rohingya by the Myanmar military and civilians.

The ICOE was headed by Rosario Manalo, a former deputy foreign minister of the Philippines, and cited the "killing of civilians, disproportionate use of force, looting of property, and destruction of abandoned homes of Muslims" in three townships in the country's western Rakhine state.

Its findings were released just as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was set to announce on Thursday it's ruling on a case filed by Gambia against Myanmar on the persecution of the Rohingya.

Gambia last November filed a lawsuit against Myanmar at the UN's highest court, a move described as a "historic achievement" by the Rohingya community.

Underlining that the "irresponsible" report "brings nothing new," the statement said: "The crisis as a whole has far-surpassed the stated individual crimes."

It described the report as a "deflection and diversion from the central question of genocide."

The statement criticized the ICOE's report for failing to differentiate the issue of armed conflicts in the region from the "forceful" displacement of nearly a million Rohingya people from their homeland by Myanmar forces through "targeted and violent means."

"The conducts of the Government of Myanmar clearly constitute genocide with the violations of several articles of Genocide Convention," the statement stressed, citing various articles of the 1948 UN convention that it said the government and military breached.

The statement added that Myanmar "strategically planned acts" aiming to "destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."

It underlined that Myanmar authorities not only carried out genocide against Rohingya Muslims for over several decades but now also rejected "the very identity of the Rohingya."

The ARU and ERC urged Myanmar to offer a "report of full transparency," prevent genocidal acts and punish those involved.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women, and children fled Myanmar and crossed to Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report titled Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar's army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

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