Possible 'elements of genocide' in Myanmar: UN rights chief

Thanks to Trump, the “fake news” defense is becoming a global phenomenon

Thanks to Trump, the “fake news” defense is becoming a global phenomenon

That from the UN's top human rights official at a special session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein asked the UN's Human Rights Council at a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland overnight.

The council's resolution broke little new ground other than calling for Zeid's office to report on Myanmar's cooperation with United Nations rights investigators.

Myanmar's ambassador Htin Lynn said his government "disassociated" itself from the text and denounced what he called "politicization and partiality".

He said Myanmar authorities had refused to give his office access to Rakhine, and that he had instead sent three teams to Bangladesh to monitor the situation and interview refugees.

Lynn told the Human Rights Council: "My government is doing everything possible to deter these extremist acts".

Zeid described "concordant reports of acts of appalling barbarity committed against the Rohingya, including deliberately burning people to death inside their homes, murders of children and adults; indiscriminate shooting of fleeing civilians; widespread rapes of women and girls, and the burning and destruction of houses, schools, markets and mosques".

"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?"

Bangladesh, which along with Saudi Arabia had requested the special session, meanwhile voiced disappointment that Tuesday's resolution was not adopted by consensus, given the severity of the crisis.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday posted all petitions relating to deportation of Muslim Rohingya refugees for detailed hearing on January 31.

Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh's junior foreign affairs minister, told the session in Geneva that his country was hosting almost one million "Myanmar nationals" following executions and rapes.

Zeid meanwhile lamented the refusal inside Myanmar, but also by some worldwide players to even name the Rohingyas, creating "a shameful paradox: they are denied a name, while being targeted for being who they are".

These crimes had been "perpetrated by Myanmar security forces and extremist Buddhist vigilantes", he said, calling for an end to what he called "xenophobic rhetoric. including from higher echelons of the government and the military".

No members of the global community are allowed access to northern Rakhine State, so he says it is impossible to assess the number of people who may have been detained, disappeared, killed or died on route. On a recent visit to Myanmar, Pope Francis did not publicly use the word "Rohingya" - and drew criticism for that decision.

Zeid noted that a staggering 626,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since August to escape persecution and violence in Myanmar.

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