A UN fact-finding mission published on Tuesday the most extensive report till date on the continued persecution of the Muslim minority Rohingyas in Myanmar since 2011 in the states of Kachin, Shan and Rakhine.
The 44-page report was based on more than 800 interviews of survivors and videos, photos as well as satellite images that detailed the atrocities and rights abuses against the community, Efe news reported.
“During their operations, the Tatmadaw (military) has systematically targeted civilians, including women and children, committed sexual violence, voiced and promoted exclusionary and discriminatory rhetoric against minorities as well as established a climate of impunity for its soldiers,” said the chair of the mission, Marzuki Darusman.
The report said that Myanmar’s policy of destruction in Rakhine might have destroyed evidence that could have helped in future investigations of the crimes, including those of genocide.
The report examined various episodes of violence over the years, especially the one that erupted in August 2017 in Rakhine that led to the exodus of more than 800,000 people, currently living in neighbouring Bangladesh in overcrowded refugee camps.
An earlier and more concise version of the report on August 27 had concluded that there were elements of intentional genocide by the country’s armed forces in the 2017 offensive, that was launched following a series of attacks on government posts by Rohingya rebels.
“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,” said Radhika Coomaraswamy, another member of the mission.
The mission considered that by conservative estimates at least 10,000 people were killed during the 2017 Army offensive, globally condemned as “ethnic cleansing”.
“These policies and practices violate Myanmar’s obligations under international law and amount to criminal conduct. They are also unwarranted. Military necessity would never justify killing indiscriminately, gangraping women, assaulting children and burning entire villages,” the report stated.
The experts blamed the military leaders for the crimes committed during the military campaign and also condemned Myanmar’s de facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi for failing to use her position to prevent the atrocities in Rakhine state.
The mission also gathered proof of war crimes and crimes against humanity in all the three states.
The experts asked the UN Security Council to refer the case to the International Criminal Court or create an ad hoc international court to try these crimes.
It also recommended individual sanctions against those identified as allegedly responsible for these crimes and an arms embargo on the country.