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3:16 pm - Sunday January 20, 7692

‘Suu Kyi may face genocide charges over Rohingya crisis’

Agencies, United Nations

The United Nations’ top human rights official has raised the prospect of Myanmar’s defacto leader Aung San Suu Kyi facing charges over the deaths and expulsion of thousands of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, has not ruled out charging military and government leaders of genocide. He said he personally warned Aung San Suu Kyi to stop the killings. However, Myanmar has denied committing atrocities against the Rohingya people.

Zeid said he would not be surprised if a future court found the military campaign against the Rohingya people amounted to genocide. The UN has previously described the deaths and displacement of the Rohingya people as a text book example of ethnic cleansing. Earlier this month the human rights chief called for a criminal investigation.

“The gravity and the scale would suggest a commission of a crime that requires a response by the international community,” he told the BBC. “The question of intentionality going back to the genocidal acts … it’s very hard to establish that because the thresholds are high.

And that’s why we continue to say that a court has to do this. But it wouldn’t surprise me in the future if a court were to make such a finding on the basis of what we’re seeing. “Because of the organisation and planning that seems to have gone into this. We can infer that from the actions on the ground.”

Mr Zeid said he personally warned Ms Suu Kyi to stop the killings in a phone call earlier this year. But regrettably nothing happened. “She said ‘this is awful, certainly we want to look at it’,” he said. “But then a couple days after that they began to question the methodology we had chosen.

They began to question whether the facts were correct.” Indeed, Ms Suu Kyi had probably sanctioned the military’s actions against the Rohingyas, he said. And Mr Zeid suggested that she too might be culpable of failing to act.

“There’s the crime of omission,” he said. “If it came to your knowledge that this was being committed, and you did nothing to stop it then you could be culpable as well for that. “Given the scale of the military operations clearly these would have to be decisions taken at a high enough level.

Posted in: World

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