By Michelle Nichols
UNITEDNATIONS (Reuters) – China, backed by Russia, failed on Wednesday to stop a United Nations Security Council briefing by the chair of a U.N. inquiry that has accused Myanmar’s military of genocide against Rohingya Muslims and wants the 15-member council to take action against those responsible.
“Atrocities continue to take place today,” Marzuki Darusman, chair of the U.N. Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar, told reporters ahead of the council briefing. “It is an ongoing genocide that is taking place.”
Global pressure is mounting on Myanmar to act on accountability after a Myanmar military crackdown in the western state of Rakhine last year drove some 700,000 of the largely stateless minority over the border into Bangladesh.
Myanmar’s U.N. Ambassador Hau Do Suan told the General Assembly’s human rights committee on Tuesday that his government had a “strong commitment to accountability for human rights violations in Rakhine or in any other place in the country.”
“We will take action against any perpetrators where there is sufficient evidence. There will be no impunity for violation of the law,” he said.
The military crackdown followed attacks by Rohingya militants on security posts. Myanmar has denied committing atrocities against the Rohingya, saying its military carried out justifiable actions against militants.
Britain, France, the United States and six other members requested Wednesday’s briefing, but China called a vote to try to stop it. Nine countries voted in favour of the briefing – the minimum needed – while China, Russia and Bolivia voted against and Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and Kazakhstan abstained.
In a letter to the Security Council last week, China, Russia, Bolivia and Equatorial Guinea “strongly objected” because they said there was no precedent for an inquiry set up by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council to be invited to brief the Security Council.
China’s U.N. Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu told the council on Wednesday “it should not get involved in country-specific human rights issues” and that the briefing would be counterproductive to efforts to solve the situation.
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the nine members who called for the meeting of “intentionally torpedoing” council consensus on the issue.
The U.N. inquiry’s report, released in August, called for the U.N. Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar, impose targeted sanctions and set up an ad hoc tribunal to try suspects or refer them to the International Criminal Court.
Diplomats say council veto powers China and Russia are likely to protect Myanmar from any push for such measures.
Darusman told reporters that repeated denials by the Myanmar government of the accusations and bid to shield itself under a cover of national sovereignty “only strengthens the case that the international community needs to act and accountability cannot be expected from the national processes.”
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish)