UN Rights Forum to Hold Special Session on Rohingya

Myanmar’s military crackdown against the Muslim minority has sent more than 620,000 Rohingya  into neighboring Bangladesh.Myanmar’s military crackdown against the Muslim minority has sent more than 620,000 Rohingya  into neighboring Bangladesh.

The UN Human Rights Council is expected to hold a special session on killings, rapes and other crimes committed against Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar that have driven more than 620,000 into Bangladesh since August, UN sources said on Monday.

“There will be a special session on December 5,” a senior United Nations source told Reuters.

Council spokesman Rolando Gomez could not confirm the date but said: “There are moves to convene a special session to address the human rights situation in the country.”

At least 16 of the 47 member states must request holding a special session of the council, which are rare. Bangladesh and Muslim-majority countries were expected to back the call.

In March the council set up a fact-finding team. The investigators reported after their first mission to Bangladesh last month that Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar had testified that a “consistent, methodical pattern of killings, torture, rape and arson is taking place”.

The latest Rohingya exodus from Rakhine State to Bangladesh’s southern tip began at the end of August, when Rohingya militants attacked security posts and the Myanmar army launched a counter-offensive.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein has described the army’s crackdown in Rakhine State as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. The military has denied the accusations of murder, rape, torture and forced displacement.

Amnesty International and other activist groups, in an open letter sent last week to member states, said that a special session was “imperative to launch decisive action and ensure international scrutiny and monitoring of the situation”.

  Papal Visit

Meanwhile, Pope Francis arrived Monday on a visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh to encourage their tiny Catholic communities and reach out to some of Asia’s most peripheral and poor, but the big question looming was whether he would utter the word “Rohingya” while he’s there, AP reported.

Francis immediately dove into the Rohingya Muslim crisis by meeting Monday evening with Myanmar’s powerful military leader, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and three officials from the bureau of special operations. The general is in charge of the security operations in Rakhine State.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke didn’t provide details of the private, 15-minute meeting at the archbishop’s residence, other than to say that “They spoke of the great responsibility of the authorities of the country in this moment of transition.”


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