11 MARCH 2019
Mr. President, Madam Special Rapporteur, Your Excellence’s,
As a Rohingya, I would like to begin by thanking the Special Rapporteur for her tireless work. It is important the Special Rapporteur’s mandate is extended and that Myanmar stops standing in the way of the very mandate this Council has given her.
Today I have four messages for the international community gathered in this room:
Firstly, let me congratulate you on the decision to establish a new Independent Investigative Mechanism on Myanmar. This was a landmark moment in our struggle for the justice and accountability that the Rohingya people and our Burmese brothers and sisters so richly deserve. It is important it can now get to work as soon as possible in preparing cases ready for prosecution, which must include by national courts exercising universal jurisdiction. The Special Rapporteur can play a key role ensuring the Mechanism is structured to harness and protect evidence and local contacts, possibly through a Memorandum of Understanding with NGOs as we saw on Syria. For the same reasons, it will also be crucial the mechanism does not cooperate with Myanmar’s sham Commission of Inquiry.
However, we must recognise that this alone is not enough, including to help stop the ongoing genocide that is being committed against the Rohingya people. That is why this Council must take additional steps now. This includes calling for the Security Council to finally refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court and exploring additional options. If we do not seize this moment, justice may never be delivered.
We must also recognise – as the Special Rapporteur has shown and despite what Myanmar says – that the conditions on the ground in Rakhine State are simply not conducive for safe, voluntary and dignified returns to our homeland. ASEAN and others cannot go along with this fallacy and we call on the Special Rapporteur to engage in wider efforts to underscore this point, especially in the region.
Finally, let us not forget that generations of Rohingya children are now being brought up in refugee camps – many without their parents. While we thank Bangladesh for its generosity and humanity, this Council and the Special Rapporteur must also ensure they put a strong focus on promoting the human rights of these refugees, including their access to quality education.
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