United Nations investigators on Monday called for an international probe and prosecution of Myanmar’s army chief and five other top military commanders for genocide against the country’s Rohingya minority.
France24 reports that some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh after Myanmar launched launched a brutal crackdown in August last year on insurgents amid accounts of arson, murder and rape at the hands of soldiers and vigilante mobs in the mainly Buddhist country.
Myanmar has vehemently denied allegations of ethnic cleansing, insisting it was responding to attacks by Rohingya rebels.
But on Monday, a UN-backed fact-finding mission into violations in Myanmar said the country’s “top military generals, including Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing, must be investigated and prosecuted for genocide in the north of Rakhine State”.
Al Jazeera reports that Myanmar’s senior military officials must be prosecuted for genocide and war crimes against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities, a UN fact-finding mission has urged.
The mission, which was established by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017, found that Myanmar’s armed forces had taken actions that “undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law”.
The report also says that they should also be investigated and prosecuted for “crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States”, it said, insisting that the army tactics had been “consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats”. The mission, which was created by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017, concluded in a report that “there is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) chain of command”.
The France24 report says that criticism was also directed at Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who has been the target of global vitriol for a perceived failure to stand up for the stateless minority. The report found that she had “not used her de facto position as head of government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events”.
They also found that soldiers had carried out “large-scale gang rape”, sometimes of as many as 40 girls and women at once, in at least 10 Rakhine villages.
“The scale, brutality and systematic nature of these violations indicate that rape and sexual violence are part of a deliberate strategy to intimidate, terrorise or punish a civilian population, and are used as a tactic of war,” the report said.
Warning that “impunity is deeply entrenched in Myanmar’s political and legal system”, the investigators insisted the only chance of obtaining accountability was through the international justice system.
They called on the UN Security Council to refer the Myanmar situation to the International Criminal Court, or for an ad hoc international criminal tribunal to be created.
They also recommended an arms embargo and “targeted individual sanctions against those who appear to be most responsible”.