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Indira Jaising appointed head of UN team to probe atrocities against Rohingya Muslims
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Indira Jaising appointed head of UN team to probe atrocities against Rohingya Muslims

Ashutosh Gambhir

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising has been appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council as the head of a fact finding team to probe alleged atrocities against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.

The Council on Tuesday named a three-member team comprising Jaising, Sri Lanka’s former human rights chief Radhika Coomaraswamy and noted Australian human rights advocate Christopher Dominic Sidoti.

The team will investigate the alleged killings, rape and torture of Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar security forces in the Rakhine State area.

It has been reported that around 75,000 Rohingya Muslims fled from the Rakhine State to Bangladesh, after retaliatory operations were carried out by the security forces in response to the killing of nine police officers by the Rohingya insurgents.

A United Nations report from February, based on the testimony of the Rohingya refugees, stated that Myanmar’s security forces have committed mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingyas in a campaign that “very likely” amounts to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar has rebuffed the charges and has refused to allow international observers into the area.

Thereafter, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to set up the mission in March. It was brought up by the EU and supported by other countries calling for “ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims”.

The Rights Council called on the Myanmar government to give investigators unhindered access to all areas. Myanmar diplomats have rejected this move by the United Nations terming it as “not acceptable” and “not in harmony with the situation on the ground and our national circumstances”. They have asked for time to conclude its own investigation.

The foreign minister of the Myanmar Government, Aung San Suu Kyi, has reportedly stated that her country would only accept recommendations from a separate advisory commission led by former UN chief Kofi Annan. Any other input would “divide” communities, she has said.

The mission will be presenting an oral update to the Rights Council in September and a full report likely in March 2018. The members will meet in Geneva in the coming weeks to plan their work.