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The UK Is 'Taking a Stand' to Bring Myanmar Leaders to Justice Over Rohingya Crisis

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UN’s Global Goals call for an end to violence everywhere, and for the rule of law to be promoted at national and international levels. One year on from the outbreak of violence against the Rohingya people of Myanmar, not a single person has been brought to justice. You can join us by taking action here to help achieve the Global Goals. 

The UK’s foreign secretary has said that Britain will “take a stand” to ensure that those responsible for the atrocities faced by the Rohingya people of Myanmar are “brought to justice.” 

Jeremy Hunt told MPs in the House of Commons on Tuesday that “ethnic cleansing in whatever shape or form, wherever it happens, should never go unpunished.” 

Take action: Every Child Deserves Quality Education. Share How a Refugee Camp Is Embracing Innovative Learning.

“There was gang rape, assaults on children, villages razed, and, in northern Rakhine, mass extermination and mass deportations,” he continued. “This is the kind of issue where countries that believe in civilised values have to take a stand and make sure that justice is done.”

He further said that the UK has a “special responsibility to act," according to the BBC

Responding to a question from Labour MP Stephen Twigg, during a session in the Commons, Hunt reportedly said there are two priorities. 

The first is to ensure a safe return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, according to reports, which he said is “not unproblematic.” 

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“Second is to make sure that perpetrators face justice,” he said. “That is going to be a long hard road … [but] we are committed to going on that journey.” 

The news comes just days after the United Nations (UN) issued the most damning analysis of the situation so far.It indicated that there is strong evidence to support a charge of genocide against the Myanmar military for the massacre and expulsion of the Rohingya people. 

In a report released on Aug. 27, the UN described the events as a “foreseeable and planned catastrophe” and that genocidal intent could be gleaned from “the level of organisation indicating a plan for destruction; and the extreme scale and brutality of the violence.” 

The report also identified six generals as being the chief culprits, and recommended that all six should be investigated for actions that “undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law.” 

Violence broke out in Myanmar on Aug. 25 2017, directed at the Rohingya people in the northern Rakhine state, and condemned by the UN as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” 

Myanmar reportedly rejected the report, saying its operations targeted militant or insurgent threats. 

In total, an estimated 750,000 people have fled their homes for neighbouring Bangladesh, and the majority are now living in camps in the Cox’s Bazar district. Some 25,000 people have been killed, and thousands more were raped, maimed, and injured.

Related Stories Sept. 3, 2018 Journalists Who Covered Myanmar Rohingya Massacre Jailed for 7 Years

Hunt said that he will be hosting a high-level meeting of ministers at the UN General Assembly in New York next month, and will be calling on foreign ministers at the UN to help bring the case to the International Criminal Court for investigation, according to the BBC

Last month, which marked the first anniversary of the crisis, Global Citizen teamed up with Save the Children UK to launch a campaign calling for the UK to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. The campaign included signing a petition directed and Jeremy Hunt, and sending emails to MPs all over the country.

Already, more than 39,000 petition signatures have been received, and emails have been sent to MPs in over 530 constituencies across the UK. 

We believe the UK government, as the pen holder for Myanmar at the UN Security Council, must use its power and influence in bringing those responsible for the violence to justice. Being “pen holder” means that the UK initiates and chairs the informal drafting process of a decision of the UN Security Council.

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Our petition called on Hunt to draft a resolution that includes text which refers the situation in northern Rakhine state to the ICC for an investigation. 

Hunt has also announced a visit to Myanmar to discuss the issue with authorities in the country, including de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has faced international criticism over her handling of the crisis. 

Hunt has also said he’ll use his visit to the country to call for the release of two Reuters journalists who have been jailed for seven years after being found guilty of breaching the Official Secrets Act. 

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were investigating violence against Rohingya people when they were arrested in December.