United Nations:UN chief Antonio Guterres has said that the Rohingya people are one of the most discriminated against people in the world, emphasising that there must be accountability for the gross violations and abuses committed in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
According to the UN estimates, nearly 700,000 minority Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state since August 25 last year when the army launched a military crackdown.
“Addressing the systematic discrimination against the Rohingya in Myanmar is essential to ensure they have legal recognition, freedom of movement and equal access to education, health services, employment and other rights,” Guterres told PTI in an exclusive interview ahead of his three-day visit to India that begins Monday.
“There can be no peace and reconciliation without ensuring that all people in Myanmar regardless of their ethnicity or religion can have equal enjoyment of their rights,” Guterres said.
Responding to a question on the worsening Rohingya crisis, Guterres said he had visited Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh in July this year and had met with refugees and heard “heartbreaking” stories of massive violence of killings, of rape, of torture, of house or villages burnt. As High Commissioner for Refugees, Guterres had twice visited Northern Rakhine state.
Almost a million Rohingya refugees live in Cox’s Bazar under tarpaulins, on steep, sandy slopes 25,000 of whom are said to be at the highest risk of landslides.
“I have no doubt that the Rohingya people are one of the most, if not the most, discriminated against people in the world, lacking any recognition of their most basic rights, starting with the recognition of their right to citizenship by their own country Myanmar,” he said.
In April, Guterres had appointed Christine Schraner Burgener as his Special Envoy on Myanmar.
She is undertaking a process of broad consultations, including with the Government and the military, and with civil society, women’s groups and Member States in the region and beyond to help address the pressing situation in Rakhine State, advance the peace process and support broader democratization and human rights issues.
Guterres called on “accountability” for the gross violations and abuses committed in the Rakhine State.
“Holding perpetrators accountable is critical to end the cycle of violence and prevent the recurrence of violations, to give Rohingya refugees the confidence to return to Myanmar to rebuild their lives, and to give hope for a new future to those who remain in Rakhine,” he said.
The UN has called for different accountability options to be considered, he said adding that very strong recommendations have been made by the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar appointed by the Human Rights Council.
Effective international cooperation will be critical to ensuring that accountability mechanisms are credible, transparent, impartial, independent and comply with Myanmar’s obligations under international law, Guterres said.
This August marked one year since hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people fled persecution and violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and sought refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh.
Bangladesh now hosts nearly one million refugees, most of whom are Rohingya women and children who have taken refuge since the start of the violence.
Myanmar does not recognise Rohingya as an ethnic group and insists that they are Bangladeshi migrants living illegally in the country.
Guterres further said that the world faces urgent challenges, from climate change and inequality to armed conflict and intolerance, especially targeting migrants and refugees.
“We must raise our ambition across the board. But this is also an era in which we have the technology, the knowledge and the wealth to move our world forward leaving no one behind.”
“At a time of fragmentation and polarisation, the world must be reminded of the value of international cooperation,” he said.
He made a call to harness the power of diversity, with people of different traditions and backgrounds coming together at the United Nations to share burdens, solve problems and seize opportunities, to resolve today’s complex challenges. We must continue to heed that voice of grace and reason that voice of morality and solidarity. Our world needs it now more than ever, he said in the email interview.
India asks China to be sensitive to its concerns
New Delhi: Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and discussed the progress in bilateral ties since the Wuhan summit last year and said both sides were implementing the decisions in a manner in which “we are sensitive to each other’s concerns”.
His meeting with Wang, who is also the State Councillor, a high-level post in the hierarchy of the ruling Communist Party of China, took place as both the countries grappled with a host of issues, including Beijing’s continued attempts block efforts list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Masood Azhar as global terrorist by the United Nations.
In his opening remarks, Gokhale said it has been year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the Chinese city of Wuhan where the two leaders reached many understandings.
He said both sides were making efforts to implement the understandings reached at the Wuhan meeting.
“As your excellency said we will work together with the Chinese side to deepen understanding to strengthen trust to implement the decisions that are taken by leaders and to do it in a manner in which we are sensitive to each other’s concerns,” he said.
He also referred to the “brisk” political exchanges since the Wuhan summit, including Wang’s visit to New Delhi to launch people to people mechanism and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is “looking forward to come to China this year”.
Gokhale, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday is also scheduled to hold detailed talks with Chinese vice foreign minister Kong Xuanyou on Monday.
In his opening remarks, Wang said China and India are two emerging market countries besides neighbours and “each other’s strategic partners.”
“In that sense, it is important for the two countries to work together to increase strategic communication, deepen mutual political trust and strengthen strategic cooperation on international and regional issues.
“Given that it is timely and important for you to have regular consultations with the Chinese side,” he said.
One of the issues that was expected to figure during this round talk was China’s continued attempts block efforts list JeM chief Azhar as global terrorist by the UN.
China blocked Azhar’s designation for the fourth-time recently stalling efforts by the United States, the United Kingdom, France move at the 1267 UN counter terrorism committee following the February Pulwama terrorist attack. It was the first technical hold put up by China post Wuhan summit.
Also, India continues to have strong reservations to join China’s mega Belt and Road Initiative due to its objections over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Both the issues have become major irritants in the bilateral ties.
In order to counter China’s technical hold in the 1267 committee, the US, the UK and France have taken the Azhar issue to the UN Security Council, which Beijing firmly opposed, saying that it should be resolved by the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee.
China also said the issue moved towards settlement and accused the US of attempting to scuttling its resolution.
Gokhale’s visit also coincides with China holding its biggest international event, the second Belt and Road Forum next week to showcase its BRI projects.
India, like the first BRF held in 2017, is reportedly not attending its second edition being held here from April 25-27.
Foreign Minister Wang said on Friday that differences over the BRI would not come in the way of the development of India-China relations and China is preparing for a Wuhan-style summit meeting this year.
He also said the CPEC is an economic project and has nothing to do with the sovereignty issues.
“One of our differences is how to look at the BRI. The Indian side has their concerns. We understand that and that is why we have stated clearly on many occasions that the BRI including the CPEC is only an economic initiative and it does not target any third country and has nothing to do with the sovereign and territorial disputes left from history between any two countries,” he said.
Interpol offers Lanka help to probe Easter blasts
Colombo: The Interpol on Monday said it is ready to offer full support to the Sri Lankan authorities in investigating the country’s deadliest terror attack that killed 290 people in a series of eight blasts that tore through churches and luxury hotels in the country.
Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock in a Twitter message said, “Interpol strongly condemns the horrific attacks and has offered its full support to the investigation being carried out by national authorities.” Paris-based Interpol is an organisation which facilitates worldwide police cooperation. Stock said Interpol can deploy an Incident Response Team at the request of a member country to provide on-site support during a crisis situation.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims,” he tweeted. Eight coordinated explosions targeted Easter worshippers and high end hotels popular with international guests.
The blasts targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress. Three explosions were reported from the five-star hotels – the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury.
According to the Government Analysts Department, a total of seven suicide bombers carried out the devastating blasts killed 290 people and injured 500 others.There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but police on Monday arrested 24 people and declined to give further details.
The blasts – the deadliest attacks in the country’s history shattered a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the LTTE.
IS says it’s behind attack on security building in Saudi Arabia
Riyadh: The militant Islamic State (IS) group says it was behind an attack the previous day on a Saudi security building in the town of Zulfi in which all four gunmen were killed and three security officers were wounded.
The kingdom’s state-run al-Ekhbariya news channel had reported that police foiled Sunday’s attempted attack. Zulfi is about 250 kilometres north of the capital, Riyadh.
Videos circulating on social media show dead gunmen with machine guns and explosive devices.
The IS-linked Aamaq news agency released a video on Monday of the four alleged “martyrdom-seekers” behind the attack. It’s unclear when the footage was filmed.
In the video, one man criticises the Saudi royal family and says the attack is to avenge Muslims imprisoned in the kingdom, Syria and Iraq.