World

Myanmar rejects UN report accusing military of genocide against Rohingya

Myanmar responds to a report by UN investigators that calls for top generals to be prosecuted for genocide by saying the international community is making "false allegations."

'We don't accept any resolutions conducted by the Human Rights Council,' spokesperson says

A police officer stands guard near a house burnt down during the last days of violence in Maungdaw, northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, on Aug. 30, 2017. A UN report has called for Myanmar military officials to face genocide charges over the brutal crackdown on Rohingya last year. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Myanmar on Wednesday responded to a report by UN investigators that calls for top generals to be prosecuted for genocide by saying the international community is making "false allegations."

The report marked the first time the United Nations has explicitly called for Myanmar officials to face genocide charges over a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims last year.

"Our stance is clear and I want to say sharply that we don't accept any resolutions conducted by the [United Nations] Human Rights Council," Zaw Htay, the main government spokesperson, said in an interview published in state media.

The fact-finding mission on Myanmar was established in March 2017 by the Human Rights Council.

Myanmar did not allow UN investigators to enter the country, he said. "That's why we don't agree and accept any resolutions made by the Human Rights Council."

He said the country has "zero tolerance to any human rights violation" and had set up a Commission of Enquiry to respond to "false allegations" made by the United Nations and "other international communities."

The government earlier this year set up a panel of two Myanmar and two international members — Filipino diplomat Rosario Manalo and Kenzo Oshima, Japan's former ambassador to the UN — to investigate human rights abuses.

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      Myanmar has denied most of the allegations, saying the military responded to a legitimate threat from Rohingya militants, who attacked police posts across the western Rakhine state.

      "If there is any case against human rights, just give us strong evidence, record and date so that we can take legal action against those who break the rules and regulations," Zaw Htay said.

      Neighbouring countries weigh in

      Malaysia's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it was Myanmar's responsibility to take action against those to blame for the alleged genocide in Rakhine State.

      Should Myanmar prove "unwilling or incapable of ensuring justice", the UN Security Council should step in and establish an international judicial mechanism to try the individuals most responsible for the crimes, the ministry said.

      "Malaysia will continue to speak about the plight of the Rohingyas. We will also continue to call for international support for the government of Bangladesh, in which close to a million Rohingyas have found refuge," Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said in the statement.

      A Rohingya boy looks out over Unchiparang refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, on Jan. 11. Violence in neighbouring Myanmar forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

      Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled the military crackdown in western state of Rakhine to neighbouring Bangladesh, according to UN agencies. They joined nearly 200,000 Rohingya who had already been living in camps there for years.

      In Bangladesh's capital of Dhaka, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam told reporters the UN produced "the most comprehensive, factual and crucial report since the attack in August last year."

      Alam said it was natural for Myanmar to reject the report, but added: "That does not matter. The world knows everything."

      On the same day as the UN released its report, Facebook shut down the account of army Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and other top military officials, accusing them of using its platform to spread "hate and misinformation."

      In the interview published Wednesday, Zaw Htay said the government had not ordered the ban and was questioning Facebook about the action, saying it had caused "mounting criticism and fear among the people."

      Myanmar's civilian government shares power with the military, which controls key ministries including home affairs and immigration.