Australia urged to end military ties with Myanmar over Rohingya crisis

Canberra, Sep 12: International human rights bodies urged Australia on Wednesday to end its military ties with Myanmar and impose sanctions on those responsible for atrocities committed against the Rohingyas.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI), the Human Rights Law Center and the Australian Council for International Development made a joint statement calling on Canberra to assist in further prosecutions of those responsible for the crimes on the Muslim minority community.

Those with blood on their hands, for the explosion of violence perpetrated by Myanmar’s security forces against Rohingya villagers across northern Rakhine State, must be held to account, Diana Sayed, Crisis Campaigns Coordinator at Amnesty International Australia, said in the statement.

The four organisations urged Australia, a member of the UN Human Rights Council, to support the international call to refer the Rohingya case to the International Criminal Court as well as promote mechanisms to preserve evidence and assist in investigations for future prosecution.

A Rohingya insurgent group carried out a coordinated assault on border security posts in 2016, unleashing a violent response from the Myanmar army which led to an exodus of over 700,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) estimates that at least 6,700 Rohingyas, including 730 children, have died in the military crackdown.

The Myanmar military has been accused of committing murders, rapes and arson against the Rohingyas in what a group of UN experts saw as evidence of intentional genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated on a massive scale, as indicated in its report.

The document, presented on August 27, will be delivered to the UN Human Rights Council at the end of the week, Efe news reported.

Faced with such a damning report, there is no excuse for inaction, according to Elaine Pearson, Australia Director at Human Rights Watch.

Myanmar does not grant citizenship to the Rohingyas, considering them to be illegal Bengali immigrants, and for years has subjected them to all kinds of discrimination, including restrictions on freedom of movement.

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