The UN cannot avoid the responsibility for the genocide against the Rohingyas in Rakhine state of Myanmar, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said yesterday.
“UN believes in the principles of humanitarian laws that promote respect for all, but it has not acted accordingly. They suppressed a lot of things. They are surely responsible for it,” he told reporters on the sideline of a seminar at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies in the capital yesterday.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) jointly organised the event on the 70th anniversary of Geneva Convention and relevance of international humanitarian law in today’s evolving world.
Momen said animosity towards Rohingyas had been building for many years, but the UN failed to regard it.
After about 741,000 Rohingyas fled military crackdown in Rakhine to Bangladesh since August 2017, UN has issued a lot of statements, but mostly centring Bangladesh, not Myanmar.
A recent internal report of UN said it had “systematic failures” in its handling of the situation in Myanmar, leading up to the 2017 mass exodus of Rohingyas.
UN Security Council has not referred Myanmar’s human rights violations to the International Criminal Court because of opposition from China and Russia.
Myanmar has also not created conditions for safe and sustainable return of Rohingyas, and the international community is accused of not putting enough pressure on the country, while Bangladesh is bearing the brunt of over 1.1 million Rohingyas.
Momen said Myanmar must be held accountable for the atrocities against Rohingyas.
He said the Geneva Convention was drafted after the Second World War for the sake of humanity, but those who were behind creation of the humanitarian laws many a times turned a blind eye when humanity was affected by violence or war.
According to the UN, 60 percent of people affected by food crises are living in conflict-ridden countries. Besides, humanitarian workers are being directly targeted, with 317 attacks in 2018 resulting in deaths of 113 aid workers. Medical personnel and facilities faced 388 attacks in 2018, resulting in over 300 deaths and 400 injuries.
As rape has increasingly become a weapon of war, one in five displaced women say they have experienced sexual violence. Besides, more than 21,000 grave violations of children’s rights were verified by the United Nations in 2017.
The international community must take strong resolve to ensure that Myanmar is held accountable for the gross violation of human rights, Momen said.
ICRC Bangladesh Head of Delegation Ikhtiyar Aslanov; Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Secretary General Firoz Salauddin; DCAB President Raheed Ejaz and General Secretary Nurul Islam Hasib also spoke.