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s. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Member of the Independent International Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar

UN urges International Criminal Court to investigate Myanmar military leaders for genocide, war crimes & crimes against humanity

A UN backed fact finding mission, mandated by the Human Rights Council to investigate allegations of abuse of the Rohingya in Myanmar, have called for the leaders of Myanmar’s military to be prosecuted for genocide in the Rakhine state as well as for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rakhine and northern Myanmar.

The group of investigators issued the strongest condemnation to date of Myanmar’s security forces for their bloody campaign against the Rohinya Muslim minority which involved rape, arson and indiscriminate killing. Three human rights experts even described Myanmar’s local military as demonstrating ‘genocidal intent’ and a ‘contempt for human life and for international law’.

Mr. Marzuki Darusman, Chairperson of the mission, called the situation in Myanmar and prosecution of the Rohinya people a ‘horrific human rights catastrophe’.

In a press conference held in Geneva, Radhika Coomaraswamy, of the investigators, named six general that the investigators will be referring to the International Criminal Court for inquiry, beginning with Myanmar’s Military Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing.

In their investigations, they found patterns of human rights violations and abuses committed in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan states that ‘amount to the gravest crimes under international law’, particularly by Myanmar’s military forces the Tatmadaw.

“Military necessity would never justify killing indiscriminately, gang raping women, assaulting children, and burning entire villages. The Tatmadaw’s tactics are consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats, especially in Rakhine State, but also in northern Myanmar,” the report states.

“They are shocking for the level of denial, normalcy and impunity that is attached to them. The Tatmadaw’s contempt for human life, integrity and freedom, and for international law generally, should be a cause of concern for the entire population.”

The report also noted that although civilian authorities had little scope to control the actions of the Tatmadaw, ‘their acts and omissions that contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes’. Singling out State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the report said that she has not used her de factor position as Head of the Government nor exercised her moral authority to prevent or stem the heinous violence happening in Rakhine state. In fact, the report also noted that they team of investigators received barely any cooperation from the Myanmar government at all in their mission, no even any official response to the the report itself.

“Impunity is deeply entrenched in Myanmar’s political and legal system, effectively placing the Tatmadaw above the law,” the report states, adding that justice has therefore remained elusive for victims in the country for decades. “The impetus for accountability must come from the international community.”