Rohingya group wants UN secretary general to resign over Myanmar 'failure'
Yangon - A Rohingya advocacy group on Wednesday called for the resignation of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres after a UN inquiry found "systemic failure" in its own conduct in Myanmar.
The report, authored by former Guatemalan foreign minister Gert Rosenthal and released on Monday, found that "serious errors were committed and opportunities were lost" ahead of a military crackdown in 2017 that saw hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims flee the country.
On Wednesday, the Free Rohingya Coalition called for the resignation of "senior UN leaders in whose hands the management of the entire UN system rests" after their leadership and management "failed the thousands of Rohingyas who were mass-slaughtered, maimed, raped or otherwise violently deported."
Rosenthal described a lack of preparedness within the UN's Myanmar office to respond to government persecution of Rohingyas in Rakhine state.
The report confirmed accusations that Renata Lok-Dessallien, the former UN resident coordinator for Myanmar, "deliberately de-dramatiz[ed] events in reports" in order to avoid threatening her office's relationship with the military.
Rosenthal, however, found that responsibility for this is a collective one and did not hold any individuals accountable for the office's "obviously dysfunctional" performance.
"For any internal assessment report to merely point to the systemic failures while not apportioning the responsibility ... entirely evades confronting the crucial issue of accountability and impunity regarding the conduct of UN officials," the Free Rohingya Coalition said in a statement.
"The Secretary General and his managerial deputies should be held accountable for the failures that have thus far emboldened Myanmar's ongoing genocidal persecution of Rohingya," the statement continued.
According to the Free Rohingya Coalition, Guterres bears personal responsibility for the atrocities against the Rohingya because, as high commissioner for refugees in 2012, he met then-president of Myanmar Thein Sein, who told Guterres about plans to confine Rohingya civilians to segregated camps and requested UN assistance in transferring the Rohingya population to a third country.
Although Guterres' office denied the request, the coalition says it should have done more to prevent the coming population transfer.
"Myanmar's intent to commit international crimes was thus made clear to the most senior levels of [the] UN, yet no action was taken," the statement says.
Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch, levelled similar criticism at Rosenthal's report, telling dpa: "Given the scale of the crimes against humanity against the Rohingya in Rakhine state, which created the world's largest refugee camp in Bangladesh in a matter of weeks, this report can only be described as a damp squib, and an utter disappointment.
"People should have been fired for these failures, starting with Renata Lok-Dessallien, the UN resident coordinator who presided over this mess and continually downplayed the severity of the crisis until it was too late."
He added: "The report now looks increasingly like a check-the-box exercise by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, designed to show commitment to accountability when, in reality, it accomplishes exactly the opposite.
"The people of Myanmar deserve a whole lot better explanation than this from the UN."dpa