Rohingya crisis: Quit UN for ‘systematic failure’ | Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 20, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:35 AM, June 20, 2019

Quit UN for ‘systematic failure’

Rohingya rights body urges UN secretary general, other top officials

The Free Rohingya Coalition, a global network of Rohingya activists, has demanded the resignation of UN Secretary General António Guterres and other senior UN leaders for the global body’s “systemic failure” in addressing “genocide” against the Rohingyas in 2017.

In a 36-page report authored by veteran Guatemalan diplomat Gert Rosenthal, the activists denounced the “dynamic of divisions rather than cohesion within the UN system”, “the absence of a clear and unified strategy” and shortcomings of “systematic and unified analysis from the field”.

The report comes after Guterres in February ordered the internal review of the world body’s operations in Myanmar following accusations that its officials there ignored warning signs of attacks against the Rohingyas.

“This is not the first time [that the] UN’s very own diplomats and officials have conducted ad hoc assessments of UN’s failures in cases of atroci-ties.

“We are deeply troubled by the fact that the UN remains incapable of heeding the lessons of the past and of self-correcting,” said the Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC) in a statement yesterday.

Rosenthal’s report does not hold accountable any managerial leaders within the UN, starting with the former UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar (2014-17) Renata Lok-Dessallien. She reportedly suppressed an internal report of the alarming failings of the UN in Myanmar, it said.

Instead of holding his own senior UN officials accountable for their failures to uphold UN’s stated norms and principles, Guterres rewarded Lok-Dessallien with a larger UN portfolio as the head of UN in India where she is based now, the FRC said.

Additionally, Guterres’ mandate of Rosenthal as a sole consultant precluded the essential question of UN’s own accountability.

In order for impunity to end within Myanmar and within the international protection system, the secretary general and his managerial deputies should be held accountable for the failures that have thus far embold-ened Myanmar’s ongoing genocidal persecution of Rohingyas, the FRC said.

“We therefore demand the resignation of senior UN leaders in whose hands the management of the entire UN system rests,” it said.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday asked Southeast Asian leaders to drastically rethink their response to the plight of the ethnic Rohingya.

The 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are scheduled to meet at the 34th ASEAN Summit in Thailand on June 20-23, 2019.

So far, ASEAN has focused largely on repatriation issues, treating the “humanitarian situation” in Myanmar’s Rakhine State merely as “a matter of concern” and disregarding the government’s crimes against humanity, said the HRW in a statement yesterday. 

For this week’s summit, ASEAN’s Emergency Response and Action Team (ERAT) produced a “preliminary needs assessment” on repatriation for the approximately one million Rohingya refugees now in Bangladesh.

The assessment was made without input from Rohingya refugees and almost entirely disregards the Myanmar government’s atrocities that led to mass displacement. It does not even use the term “Rohingya,” denying the group’s self-identity, said HRW.

Brad Adams, Asia director of HRW, yesterday said, “Instead of adopting Myanmar propaganda, ASEAN should be pressing Myanmar to start cooperating with international institutions or else face consequences.

“Malaysia and Indonesia have led past efforts to raise Rohingya issues during regional meetings, and it’s vital they do so again at this week’s ASEAN summit,” Adams said.

“ASEAN’s credibility to deal with a damaging regional crisis is on the line.”

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development and Progressive Voice in a joint statement said ASEAN needs to stop turning a blind eye to Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya, and cease lending legitimacy to the repatriation process.

“A huge political shift is needed for things to start moving in the right direction,” said Eva Sundari, Indonesian MP and APHR Board Member.

Over 841,000 fled atrocities by the Myanmar military since August 2017.

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