World, Asia - Pacific

International community backs UN report on Myanmar

Report calls for prosecution of top military officials on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes

International community backs UN report on Myanmar

By Meryem Goktas


The international community on Monday supported the UN report, which called for an investigation and prosecution of Myanmar's top military officials on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against Rohingya Muslims.

The report prepared by the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar stated that human rights violations and abuses committed in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States need to be probed at the International Criminal Court.

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party said that the report is an important evidence.

In a Twitter post, Omer Celik, spokesman of the (AK) Party said: "Institutions, especially the UN should not limit their duties on identifying and condemning the crime. We must hear an immediate and effective action plan on how to stop this crime."

On Aug. 25, 2017, Myanmar launched a major military crackdown on the Muslim ethnic minority, killing almost 24,000 civilians and forcing 750,000 others to flee to Bangladesh, according to the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

In its recent report -- titled Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience -- the OIDA increased the estimated number of murdered Rohingya to 23,962 (±881) from an earlier Doctors Without Borders figure of 9,400.

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, the OIDA report said, adding that 17,718 (±780) Rohingya women and girls were raped by the Myanmar army and police. More than 115,000 Rohingya houses were burned and 113,000 others were vandalized, it added.

In a news conference in Brussels, Maja Kocijancic, the EU foreign affairs spokeswoman, said the situation in Rakhine state remains serious and called for action against the prepatrators involved in human rights violations.

Domestic acceptance

Kocijancic said a meeting is planned to be held with the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar this week.

Mark Field, the U.K.’s minister of state for Asia and the Pacific, also commented on the report.

"We will discuss options for bringing the report before the Security Council with other members once the Fact Finding Mission have made their final presentation to the Human Rights Council in September,“ he said in a statement.

Field stated that there is also an urgent need for “domestic acceptance and accountability“ in Myanmar.

“It is now essential the Burmese government sets out how its Commission of Inquiry will be able to investigate these crimes with full impartiality and how it will be linked to a judicial process to hold those responsible to account,“ he added.

The Human Rights Watch also called on the UN Security Council to seek justice for Myanmar atrocities.

“The Fact-Finding Mission’s powerful report and clear recommendations demonstrate the obvious need for concrete steps to advance criminal justice for atrocious crimes, instead of more hollow condemnations and expressions of concern,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch’s director for Asia.

Adams also said that UN member states should create a mechanism “to ensure those most responsible for grave crimes do not escape prosecution.”

Culture of violence

“So far, condemnations without action by UN member states have only emboldened a culture of violence and oppression in Myanmar,” Adams said.

“This report should eliminate any doubt about the urgency of investigating those responsible for mass atrocities. The time to act is now,” he added.

The report by the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar is based on 875 interviews of witnesses and victims.

The report added that crimes against humanity committed on Rohingya Muslims include murder, rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence.

The report said that accountability needs to be ensured under international law “preferably by referring the situation to the International Criminal Court or alternatively by creating an ad hoc international criminal tribunal”.

It also called on the UN Security Council to adopt “targeted individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against those who appear most responsible for serious crimes under international law.”

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In its report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

* Yusuf Hatip from Brussels and Yesim Sert Karaaslan from Ankara contributed to the story.

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