China fails to stop UN Myanmar briefing

UN investigator Marzuki Darusman warns a genocide against the Rohingya is taking place in Myanmar.China, backed by Russia, has failed to stop a United Nations Security Council briefing by the chair of a UN inquiry that has accused Myanmar’s military of genocide against Rohingya Muslims and wants the 15-member council to take action against those responsible.

“Atrocities continue to take place today,” Marzuki Darusman, chair of the UN Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar, told reporters ahead of the council briefing.

“It is an ongoing genocide that is taking place.”

Global pressure is mounting on Myanmar to act on accountability after a Myanmar military crackdown in the western state of Rakhine last year drove some 700,000 of the largely stateless minority over the border into Bangladesh.

Myanmar’s UN Ambassador Hau Do Suan told the General Assembly’s human rights committee on Tuesday that his government had a “strong commitment to accountability for human rights violations in Rakhine or in any other place in the country.”

“We will take action against any perpetrators where there is sufficient evidence. There will be no impunity for violation of the law,” he said.

The military crackdown followed attacks by Rohingya militants on security posts. Myanmar has denied committing atrocities against the Rohingya, saying its military carried out justifiable actions against militants.

Britain, France, the United States and six other members requested Wednesday’s briefing, but China called a vote to try to stop it. Nine countries voted in favour of the briefing – the minimum needed – while China, Russia and Bolivia voted against and Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and Kazakhstan abstained.

China’s UN Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu told the council on Wednesday: “it should not get involved in country-specific human rights issues” and that the briefing would be counterproductive to efforts to solve the situation.

Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the nine members who called for the meeting of “intentionally torpedoing” council consensus on the issue.

The UN inquiry’s report, released in August, called for the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar, impose targeted sanctions and set up an ad hoc tribunal to try suspects or refer them to the International Criminal Court.

Diplomats say council veto powers China and Russia are likely to protect Myanmar from any push for such measures.