Myanmar Should Face the Hague Over Atrocities, UN Mission Says
(Bloomberg) -- Myanmar’s powerful military should be brought before the International Court of Justice for its continued role in grave violations against ethnic groups including Rohingya Muslims, the United Nations fact-finding mission concluded on Monday following a two-year investigation.
The final report -- to be presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday -- details the ongoing systematic use of murder, rape, gang rape, torture and forced displacement in armed conflicts throughout northern Myanmar. It also highlights the persecution of some 600,000 remaining Rohingya in western Rakhine State living “under the threat of genocide” while their villages were razed to the ground.
“Having considered the Government’s hostile policies towards the Rohingya,” the report states, the mission “has reasonable grounds to conclude that the evidence infers genocidal intent on the part of the state.”
In 2017, the military, also known as Tatmadaw began “clearing operations” that forced more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee for their lives to Bangladesh, while thousands more were raped and murdered. With the government showing no signs of holding senior military officials accountable, the UN Security Council should refer Myanmar to the International Court or establish an ad hoc tribunal, like the ones for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the report recommends.
“Myanmar is failing in its obligation to prevent genocide, to investigate genocide and to enact effective legislation criminalizing and punishing genocide,” Marzuki Darusman, chair of the fact-finding mission said in a statement that also accuses Myanmar of failing to uphold the UN Genocide Convention of which it is a member.
The report comes as Bangladesh is increasing pressure on Myanmar to repatriate the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya living in camps near its southern border. Last week, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina blamed Myanmar for failing to repatriate the refugees while Bangladesh’s telecommunications regulator has directed operators to shut down data services in the camps. The matter has drawn wide criticism from rights groups who said it was threatening the safety of the camps.
“We’ve seen that Myanmar failed to win Rohingya people’s trust and create a proper environment for their dignified return,” Hasina said in parliament on Sept. 11. “We’re fully prepared, but couldn’t start the repatriation as the Rohingya did not agree to go back.”
Myanmar has staged two attempts to repatriate Rohingya, who are refusing to leave the camps unless their safety can be assured. The UN mission notes that Myanmar has already re-purposed confiscated land, with an estimated 40,600 structures destroyed and over 200 settlements almost completely wiped out between August 2017 and April 2019.
In an attempt to hold senior officials of the military accountable, the UN mission last month called for sanctions against a network of companies owned by the Tatmadaw’s two biggest businesses -- Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. and Myanmar Economic Corp. -- saying they helped carry out and finance nationwide human rights violations.
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