Myanmar: an ethnic cleansing is happening [fr]
Security Council briefing on the situation in Myanmar - Speech by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 28 September 2017.
"As France prepares to assume the presidency of the Security Council for the month of October, rest assured, Sir, of the full attention that it will accord to the situation in Myanmar." Ambassador François Delattre
- The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, briefing Members of the Security Council on the situation in Myanmar.
- UN Photos
First of all, please allow me to warmly thank the Secretary-General for accepting the request put forward by France and six other Security Council members to brief us on the situation in Myanmar. On behalf of France, I would like to welcome the Secretary-General’s personal commitment to this priority issue.
The terrible facts are before us. As President Macron reminded us at the General Assembly (see A/72/PV.4), ethnic cleansing is happening today in
western Myanmar. Nearly 500,000 Rohingyas, the majority of whom are children and women, have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh in a month’s time. More than 200 villages have been completely destroyed, while others have been set on fire so as to force people to flee and deter them from returning. Let us not be mistaken: the incitement to hatred and violence against the Rohingya people in Myanmar in the form of public speeches and other forms of stigmatization could lead to even worse atrocities, if we do not immediately end it. Faced with such a serious situation, the Security Council has the enormous responsibility to unite and act to break the negative spiral and urgently find a path leading towards a peaceful and political way out.
To that end, our immediate efforts must be guided along two avenues.
Our first priority must be to end the violence. We call on all parties to immediately halt violence directed against civilians. We call on the Myanmar security forces — as it is incumbent upon them — to ensure the protection of all civilians without discrimination. The Myanmar authorities must also end the actions of self-proclaimed groups that are attacking the Rohingyas.
The second priority, which is inextricably dependent upon the first, is the restoration of safe and unhindered access for all humanitarian actors. The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Myanmar Red Cross Society have been mobilized. They have delivered a significant amount of assistance, which, however, has been largely insufficient given the scope of what is needed. It is urgent that access be granted to United Nations agencies, the World Food Programme, UNICEF and other major non-governmental organizations, such as Médecins sans Frontières, which can provide emergency relief in a neutral, independent and impartial manner. The government of Myanmar’s initiative to organize a visit by diplomats and humanitarian organizations in Rakhine state is a step in the right direction. I would also like to acknowledge the outstanding work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration, which are urgently addressing the influx of almost 500,000 people to Bangladesh.
The significant effort made by Bangladesh, which has welcomed almost 700,000 Rohingya, also deserves to be commended and supported by the international community. We encourage the Bangladeshi authorities to provide necessary access to all humanitarian actors according to the needs of the people.
I have just touched upon the most pressing challenges. Three other priorities, which are inextricably interlinked, also demand that we act because they are
critical to finding a lasting solution to the crisis.
First, once we succeed in ending the violence, we will need to define precisely the modalities for the safe, voluntary and lasting return of the refugees.
The second priority will be to launch a political process as quickly as possible so as to address the root causes of the violence, including the systematic discrimination of the Rohingya people — who have been denied citizenship in Myanmar for decades — and the systematic violation of their rights. The final report submitted by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, chaired by Mr. Kofi Annan, contains important recommendations concerning the subject. The commitment of the Myanmar Government to implement determinedly and immediately those recommendations is a positive first step that must be translated into action. France reiterates its support for the civilian Government to pursue and consolidate the democratic transition process initiated in 2015. France also commends the work undertaken by countries of the region in search of a solution to the crisis.
The denial of the Rohingya’s rights for decades has led to the radicalization of a minority among them. Civilians must not pay for the violence committed by an extremist group. That is why — and this is the third challenge — we cannot ignore the massive violations of human rights that may constitute crimes against humanity, as was stated by the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Those responsible for crimes should be brought to justice. For the time being, we call on the Myanmar authorities to allow full access to all human rights monitoring bodies, in particular the fact-finding mission established by the Human Rights Council last March. That mission must be allowed to visit Myanmar and conduct an independent investigation of any violations committed, irrespective of the perpetrators. We reiterate this appeal today to the Myanmar Government.
As France prepares to assume the presidency of the Security Council for the month of October, rest assured, Sir, of the full attention that it will accord to the situation in Myanmar. During the very first days of our mandate, in collaboration with the United Kingdom, we will organize an Arria Formula meeting — an open informal meeting of the Security Council — which will include Kofi Annan, among other key actors. That meeting, which will be open to everyone, will not only give a perspective of the situation on the ground for all participants, but will also address in more detail the recommendations of the Commission chaired by Kofi Annan and the means to act at our disposal. Moreover, we are continuing our work with our partners on the Council to show its firm and collective commitment, which France believes is crucial and urgent.
Allow me to conclude by citing the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State: “The status quo is not tenable”. France will therefore remain ready to take the initiative for the Security Council to fully assume its responsibilities concerning this issue that, through this meeting, we wish to make a priority and a shared priority on which to take collective action.