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NEW YORK: The United Nations and Myanmar government have come under fire for failing to resolve the Rohingya crisis which has displaced more than a million people in the country. Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad claims the UN has not fulfilled its purpose of preventing such man-made atrocities while also slamming the Myanmar government for not taking proper action or holding to account those military officials who committed atrocities.

Myanmar’s military is accused of murdering thousands of Rohingya in western Rakhine state since 2017, which has resulted in the mass exodus of these Muslim minorities to neighbouring countries, and led to the world’s largest refugee camp at Cox Bazar in Bangladesh.

Most damningly, the PM claimed none of the atrocities committed in 2017 have been accounted for. He said: “Even those convicted for the Inn Dinn mass killings, for example, were released after serving barely one year of their 10-year sentence. The conviction was an attempt to deceive us into thinking that they are holding perpetrators accountable.”

The comments raise further questions for brands sourcing from Myanmar as the country is already under heavy scrutiny for alleged transgressions of labour and human rights and might losing its EU trade benefits moving forwards. Economic sanctions have been applied in the recent past to Myanmar but this were lifted relatively recently, and brands such as H&M and Gap have since begun sourcing there.

At a high-level event ‘Rohingya Crisis – A Way Forward’ at the United Nations headquarters, also attended by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said: “Let us start by calling a spade, a spade. What happened in the Rakhine State is genocide.

“What took place were mass killings, systematic rape and other gross violations of human rights. This resulted in Rohingyas fleeing the country en masse.

“While Myanmar is arguing that it was responding to the threat of terrorism, it is ironic that millions fled in fear of such counter-terrorism measures or simply State and institutionalised terrorism.

“The situation in Myanmar is not any better. Many Rohingyas have become internally displaced persons (IDPs) languishing in camps in Rakhine. When the world likened the IDP camps to those notorious concentration camps of the past, the Myanmar Government has been quick to deny. Yet, the Myanmar authorities have denied access to some UN officials and humanitarian aid workers. If Myanmar has nothing to hide, why bar others from seeing the situation in Rakhine? Let these officials and aid workers visit, inspect and assist those living in the camps.”


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