UN Headquarters (NY, USA): Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said what happened in the Rakhine state of Myanmar is genocide.
Addressing the international community, he said "Let's start by calling a spade, a spade. What happened in Rakhine state is genocide”.
Dr Mahathir said this at the high-level side event on the 'Rohingya Crisis - A Way Forward' held on the sidelines of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Wddnesday.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, OIC Secretary General Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen also spoke on the occasion.
Citing that "What took place were mass killings, systematic rape and other gross violations of human rights," the Malaysian PM called for the international community to put the Rohingya crisis squarely on its radar with a view to resolving it now.
For a start, Dr Mahathir said, the UN should play its role, taking into account that it was established in hopes of preventing human-made miseries.
What happened in the Rakhine state is genocide that resulted in the Rohingyas fleeing the country en masse, most ending up in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, he added.
Malaysia is hosting close to 100,000 registered Rohingya refugees, with many more unregistered, he said.
"On this, we commend Bangladesh for all it has done in hosting more than 1.2 million Rohingya refugees," Mahathir said.
"While this may seem like a small number compared to those in Bangladesh, plenty of resources have been dedicated to allowing them to live a decent life while they await relocation to a third country. We will continue to help the Rohingyas within our means and capacity," the Malaysian PM pledged.
In a message to other countries, Mahathir said: "We hope others would also join us and Bangladesh in our resolve to end the miseries that have befallen the Rohingyas. We need to put an end to the crisis and we need to do it now."
Mahathir said when the world likened the IDP camps to those notorious concentration camps of the past, the Myanmar government had been quick to deny it.
"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," he said.
Without Security Council action, he said, others must do their part to resolve the crisis and bring perpetrators to justice, commending the effort of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in addressing the Rohingya issue at the international fora and for the decision to bring the matter to the International Court of Justice.
"We hope other countries would support the OIC to ensure that the perpetrators do not get away with the heinous crimes they have committed," he concluded.
About 740,000 Rohingya fled their villages in Rakhine following a military crackdown in August 2017, joining nearly 200,000 already living in squalid camps across the border in Cox's Bazar, in southeast Bangladesh.
Special Adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO) Mental Health Department Saima Wazed Hossain Putul and Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen were also present at the meeting.
Besides, representatives from various OIC countries, representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Belgium, the European Union, Sweden, Singapore, Kuwait, Serbia, Philippines and Gambia attended the meeting.
BDST: 1318 HRS, SEP 25, 2019