How will you protect victims, witnesses? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:59 AM, August 19, 2019

How will you protect victims, witnesses?

Bangladesh asks Myanmar’s probe commission for Rakhine rights violations

Bangladesh yesterday asked Independent Commission of Enquiry how it would ensure safety for the Rohingya witnesses whom it wants to question to collect evidence of human rights violations in Rakhine State of Myanmar.

Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE), the commission tasked to investigate the allegations of human rights violations in Rakhine and related issues, however, could not answer the question properly, said a diplomatic source.

“Officials of Bangladesh wanted to know how ICOE will protect the witnesses it expects to question. But the members of the commission could not come up with any satisfactory answer to that question,” the source told The Daily Star.

The question-answer session was held between delegations of ICOE, led by Kenzo Oshima, and Bangladesh, led by Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, at the later’s ministry office.

Kenzo Oshima is a former permanent representative of Japan to the United Nations.

Along with Kenzo, the ICOE team includes Rosario Manalo, chairperson of the commission and also a former deputy foreign minister of the Philippines, U Mya Thein, former chair of the Constitutional Tribunal of Myanmar,

and Prof Aung Tun Thet, former senior official of Unicef and also a former principal officer of UN System Staff College.

As a part of investigation, ICOE earlier wrote to Bangladesh seeking assistance in investigation following which yesterday’s meeting was held.

During the meeting, Bangladesh told ICOE members that two Reuters journalists were jailed for securing classified documents of Myanmar government and asked “How would you get those classified documents, including the ones that ordered the military crackdown on the Rohingyas?”

The ICOE counterpart, however, could not respond properly to that question either, the diplomatic source added.

Bangladesh also asked why the UN’s Independent Fact-Finding Mission was denied access to Myanmar for investigation into the military crackdown.

There was no answer from the ICOE delegation, the source said.

Bangladesh also asked on which court ICOE was planning to go for trial of the atrocities against the Rohingyas but the delegation kept mum.

Around 750,000 Rohingyas have fled military crackdown in Rakhine state since August 25, 2017 but Myanmar categorically rejected accusations of ethnic cleansing and dismissed most accounts of atrocities. On top of that, it termed some of the Rohingyas “terrorists”.

A two-member delegation of ICOE attended the meeting in Dhaka yesterday. A fully-fledged delegation of ICOE is expected to arrive soon.

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