Wednesday, 19 June, 2019

UN mission demands top Myanmar military commanders’ trial for genocide

Published on: 9:26 pm - Monday | August 27, 2018

The UN fact finding mission on Myanmar today demanded Burmese army chief and other top military commanders trial on charges of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Rakhine state, the home of evicted Rohingya community, and some other areas of the country.

“The Mission called for the situation in Myanmar to be referred to the International Criminal Court or for an ad hoc international criminal tribunal to be created,” the UN said in a statement issued from Geneva.

The report said there was sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of chain of command of Myanmar military, which it called by their native term “Tatmadaw”, so the culprits could be exposed to justice.

The mission drew up a list of alleged perpetrators as priority subjects for investigation and prosecution, whom it believed “had effective control and bear the greatest responsibility”.

The report said the responsibility starts at the top, with the Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing and five other military commanders.

“(But) a longer list of names will be kept in the custody of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and can be shared with any competent and credible body pursuing accountability in line with international norms and standards,” it said.

The report noted that civilian authorities had little scope to control the Tatmadaw actions but “through their acts and omissions, the civilian authorities have contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes”.

It particularly criticized Aung San Suu Kyi saying the State Counsellor did not use “her de facto position as Head of Government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events in Rakhine State”.

The UN today published the report of its independent international Fact-Finding Mission formed in March 2017, which, however, was never granted access to Myanmar.

But the report said their investigators amassed a vast amount of information from primary sources, including through 875 in-depth interviews with victims and eyewitnesses, satellite imagery and authenticated documents, photographs and videos.

The mission travelled to Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the United Kingdom to gather information for its report.

The Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown in northwestern Myanmar’s Rakhine state In August last year on the plea of rebel attacks on its police posts and a military base.

The crackdown is believed to have killed as high as 25,000 Rohingyas and drove 700,000 of them out of their home to take makeshift refuge in neighboring Bangladesh.

According to the report the UN investigators found patterns of gross human rights violations and abuses committed in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States that “undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law, principally by Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, but also by other security forces”.

“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 read.

It added: “They are shocking for the level of denial, normalcy and impunity that is attached to them”.

The crimes against humanity committed in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine States include murder; imprisonment; enforced disappearance; torture; rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence; persecution and enslavement.

“The crimes in Rakhine State (in particular), and the manner in which they were perpetrated, are similar in nature, gravity and scope to those that have allowed genocidal intent to be established in other contexts,” the report said.

The Mission called for the situation in Myanmar to be referred to the International Criminal Court or for an ad hoc international criminal tribunal to be created. In the interim, it called for an independent, impartial mechanism to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of violations.

It also recommended targeted individual sanctions against those who appear to be most responsible.

The UN said a fuller report, containing detailed factual information and legal analysis would be published and presented to the Human Rights Council on 18 September with significant amount of satellite imagery analysis.

After seeing the report, Social media giant Facebook banned 20 individuals and organizations in Myanmar – including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the military’s Myawady television network.

“Specifically, we are banning 20 individuals and organizations from Facebook in Myanmar – including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” it said.

The list included the military’s Myawady television network.

Facebook said it took the decision as international experts, most recently in a report by the UN Human Rights Council-authorized Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, found evidence that many of these individuals and organizations committed or enabled serious human rights abuses in the country.


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