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UN human rights chief 'cannot rule out genocide' of Rohingya in Myanmar

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights said the genocide of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar’s security forces could not be ruled out, in a statement to the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

Addressing a special session on the Rohingya crisis, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said security forces “deliberately and massively targeted civilians” in the Rakhine state, and listed allegations of abuses including “acts of appalling barbarity” carried out by Myanmar’s government.

He went on to state,

"Considering Rohingyas' self-identify as a distinct ethnic group with their own language and culture - and [that they] are also deemed by the perpetrators themselves as belonging to a different ethnic, national, racial or religious group - given all of this, can anyone rule out that elements of genocide may be present?"

Previously Mr Zeid said the violence was a case of "textbook ethnic cleansing".

"Ultimately, this is a legal determination only a competent court can make," he continued. "But the concerns are extremely serious, and clearly call for access to be immediately granted for further verification."

See the full text of his statement here.

Marzuki Darusman chair of a fact-finding team appointed by the UN which has been refused access to Myanmar, also told the council that they had collected allegations of “extreme severity,” including genocide.

“We have not come to any conclusion on these issues but we are taking such allegations very seriously and are examining them in depth,” he added.

Previously Mr Darusman headed the UN Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka in 2011 which found Sri Lanka’s “conduct of the war represented a grave assault on the entire regime of international law”.

Whilst his team still has not been granted entry into Mynmar, “We maintain hope that it will be granted early in 2018,” he stated