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19 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 18 September, 2018 10:23:51 PM
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ATROCITIES AGAINST ROHINGYAS

Refer Myanmar to ICC or try it thru ad hoc body

Fact-finding mission urges UNSC in full report
DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT
Refer Myanmar 
to ICC or try it 
thru ad hoc body

The United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar yesterday released a full 440-page report detailing the unimaginable horrific atrocities orchestrated by the Myanmar military against Rohingya people in Rakhine state. The report, submitted before the UN Human Rights Commission by the three members of mission, contained the account of the findings of its 15-month examination of the situation in three states in Myanmar – Rakhine, Kachin and Shan.

Making dozens of recommendations, including to the UN and the international community and to the government of Myanmar, it reiterated the mission’s call for the investigation and prosecution of Myanmar’s commander-in-chief, senior general Min Aung Hlaing, and his top military leaders for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

“Peace will not be achieved while the Tatmadaw (military) remains above the law. The Tatmadaw is the greatest impediment to Myanmar’s development as a modern democratic nation,” Marzuki Darusman, chair of the mission stated. “The Commander-in-Chief of the Tatmadaw, Min Aung Hlaing, and all the current leadership must be replaced, and a complete restructuring must be undertaken to place the Tatmadaw under full civilian control. Myanmar’s democratic transition depends on it,” he said.

The experts identified six individual senior commanders as most responsible, including the military the Myanmar military chief senior-general Min Aung Hlaing. Following the release of its 20-page report to the Human Rights Council of its main findings on 27 August 2018, the Mission has now released its full report, unprecedented in its scope.  The full report establishes the clear patterns of violations by the Myanmar military across the country, and the legal analysis on which the recommendations are based.

Drawing on 875 detailed interviews conducted in locations in five countries, the report illustrates, in graphic detail, the violent modus operandi that is the hallmark of military operations against its own people. “During their operations the Tatmadaw has systematically targeted civilians, including women and children, committed sexual violence, voiced and promoted exclusionary and discriminatory rhetoric against minorities, and established a climate of impunity for its soldiers,” said Marzuki Darusman.

“The full findings we are releasing today show why, in our report to the Human Rights Council, we insist that the perpetrators of the gross human rights violations and international crimes, committed in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States must not go unpunished. They also show why the top generals should be investigated and prosecuted for genocide in Rakhine State. I have never been confronted by crimes as horrendous and on such a scale as these,” he said.

The report sets out in extensive detail its findings on the extreme violence perpetrated against the Rohingya in Rakhine State since 25 August 2017, in what the Myanmar military referred to as ‘clearance operations’.

It documents in unsparing detail how the military took the lead in killing thousands of Rohingya civilians, as well as forced disappearances, mass gang rape and the burning of hundreds of villages.

Through first-hand testimony from hundreds of victims and witnesses, the report provides harrowing details of some of the most serious mass-killings that took place during the ‘clearance operations’. These operations – including those in Min Gyi (known in Rohingya as Tula Toli), Chut Pyin and Maung Nu – involved planned and deliberately executed mass killing in which “dozens and, in some cases hundreds of men, women and children were killed”, the report says.

The report also details how the military perpetrated similar patterns of violations in numerous other villages. The mission has corroborated military ‘clearance-operations’ in a total of 54 locations, and received first-hand accounts of additional operations in a further 22 locations.

“The horrors inflicted on Rohingya men, women and children during the August 2017 operations, including their indiscriminate killing, rise to the level of both war crimes and crimes against humanity”, said Radhika Coomaraswamy, another member of the mission.

“The crimes themselves, and the manner in which they were perpetrated, were found to be similar in nature, gravity and scope to those that have allowed for genocidal intent to be established in other contexts,” she added.

The report reveals a pattern of rape and other forms of sexual violence committed on a shocking scale. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of Rohingya women and girls were brutally raped, including in public mass gang rapes. Many victims were then killed or mutilated. This represents a particularly serious pattern of orchestrated and condoned sexual violence.

The report includes satellite images, setting out detailed analysis that corroborates information provided by victims and witnesses. The images show the transformation of much of northern Rakhine State over the past year, with at least Rohingya 392 villages razed to the ground, providing irrefutable documentation of the scale of destruction perpetrated.

Further satellite imagery shows that the burning has been followed with the clearance by bulldozers of large areas of land.

“Through this process, many Rohingya villages have been rendered unrecognisable, devoid of all structures, trees and vegetation”, the report states.

“Now, new security structures, infrastructure projects, and new villages, almost exclusively built for other non-Rohingya ethnic communities, are being constructed where Rohingya homes once stood.”

In this light, the report casts serious doubts over plans for repatriation.

The report further details how the extreme violence perpetrated against the Rohingya in 2017 and their mass expulsion can only be properly understood against a backdrop of decades of institutionalised oppression and persecution affecting the lives of the Rohingya “from birth to death”.

The report calls on the United Nations Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court, or to establish an ad hoc international criminal tribunal.

It also calls for targeted individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes against those who appear most responsible, and an arms embargo on Myanmar.

“Addressing situations like that in Myanmar touches on the very purpose of the United Nations,” the experts noted, emphasising the imperative for the organisation to continue its important work in country.

“We call on all the competent organs and agencies of the UN to step up to the task, and to act with urgency and in accordance with the principles of human rights,” they said.

“The international community has failed. Let us now resolve not to fail the people of Myanmar again,” they added.

AFP adds: A UN probe is calling for six members of Myanmar’s military — including its commander-in-chief — to be investigated for ‘genocide’ against the Rohingya.

A violent army crackdown last year forced more than 700,000 of the Muslim minority over the border into Bangladesh.

The UN team has singled out the following as most responsible for the crimes:

Min Aung Hlaing

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is the most powerful man in Myanmar.

As well as controlling all branches of Myanmar’s military, he wields significant political might with three ministries — defence, interior and border affairs — reporting to him.

Military men also fill a quarter of parliamentary seats, giving the armed forces chief an effective veto over any constitutional changes. Min Aung Hlaing, 62, was born in Dawei in southern Myanmar but grew up in Yangon.

He ditched his law studies after one year to embrace a military career, rising to the top in 2011 as Myanmar emerged from absolute junta rule.

During the crackdown against the Rohingya, UN investigators say he was “well-informed of real-time developments” with “a full picture of what was transpiring, both on his orders and on his watch”.

Facebook removed his two official accounts last month, alongside 19 other individuals and organisations, to prevent them from using the website to “further inflame ethnic and religious tensions”.

Before Min Aung Hlaing’s pages were taken down, they boasted a combined total of about 4.1 million followers.

The army chief promptly switched to Russian social media platform VKontakte, but this week his account there was also taken offline.

Soe Win

A shadowy figure, Vice Commander-in-Chief Soe Win joined the military in 1980 and is known for his hardline stance and reluctance to speak publicly.

As the military number two, Soe Win was “heavily involved” with managing combat deployments in Rakhine, according to Amnesty International.

Aung Kyaw Zaw

Lieutenant General Aung Kyaw Zaw is the highest-ranking Myanmar military officer to be targeted by both US and EU sanctions.

He commanded the Bureau of Special Operations from 2015 to January 2018, making him fourth in the chain of command in the Rakhine operations last year, according to NGO Fortify Rights.

The group also says he was “embedded...on the ground”, increasing the likelihood that troops were acting under his direct orders.

He was fired from the army in May this year for “weakness in serving duty”, according to an army Facebook post, a move seen by many as an attempt to use him as a scapegoat.

 Maung Maung Soe

The same fate awaited Major General Maung Maung Soe, formerly the chief of the military’s Western Command, which includes Rakhine.

He was reassigned in November to “inspect his responsibility over his weakness while working for Rakhine state stability”, the military said, later declaring that he had been “purged” for poor performance.

The US hit him with sanctions in December.

Aung Aung

The notorious 33rd Light Infantry Division (LID) is known to have played a leading role in committing atrocities against the Rohingya.

Brigadier General Aung Aung is the commander and would have given orders for troops to target specific villages, Amnesty says.

Its troops are implicated in the massacres in both Chut Pyin in Rathedaung township and Inn Din, where 10 Rohingya men were murdered in extrajudicial killings uncovered by two local Reuters reporters, who have since been sentenced to seven years in jail.

The US has sanctioned the 33rd LID.

Than Oo

The soldiers of the 99th Light Infantry Division, under the command of Brigadier General Than Oo, are implicated in the Tula Toli massacre in Rakhine’s Maungdaw township. His soldiers rounded up hundreds of Rohingya to a nearby river bank and opened fire on them, according to the US Treasury.

Women and girls were raped and the lives of young children were not spared.

In May, Than Oo was demoted to an auxiliary force.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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