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28 August 2018

Myanmar military leaders should face genocide charges, UN says

By Euan McKirdy, CNN

(CNN)An independent United Nations investigation into alleged human rights abuses carried out against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has called for the country's military leaders to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The damning report contains allegations of murder, imprisonment and sexual violence against the Rohingyas, carried out by the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, under the guise of a crackdown on terrorists, and against a backdrop of impunity that effectively placed military leaders above the law.
"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 said.
The report recommends the case be referred to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, or for an ad hoc tribunal to be created to investigate the actions of the alleged perpetrators. Six military leaders are named in the report, including Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
Referring to the unusual step of naming the alleged perpetrators in the report, mission member Radhika Coomaraswamy told the media in Geneva on Monday morning that they had found "such overwhelming evidence" of wrongdoing and that the command had "such effective control from what we could gather that we could name ... who was responsible."
The names of others thought to culpable have been "put in an envelope" and will be given to the Human Rights Commissioner, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, she said.
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UN investigators found that the Myanmar's civilian government had "contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes" through their "acts and omissions."
"The State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has not used her de facto position as Head of Government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events in Rakhine State," the report states.
Members of the misson said that the international community's involvement in the process is important, and that the country could not be expected to hold its military to account.
Given "abusive military conduct going back half a century," and the "complete impunity of military commanders (and the) almost complete immunity given to troops," expecting justice from domestic processes was "simply naive," Christopher Sidoti, a member of the mission, said at a news conference.
A number of humanitarian organizations, including Amnesty International and Save the Children, backed the UN's recommendation that Myanmar be referred to the International Criminal Court.
"The international community needs to send a firm signal to all perpetrators, including the Myanmar military, that crimes of this magnitude will not be allowed to pass unaccounted for," said Michael McGrath, country director in Myanmar for Save the Children.

Mass exodus

Last August, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims started fleeing across the border into Bangladesh into what's since become the world's biggest refugee camp. Many of those who crossed the border have recounted horrific stories of being driven from their homes under threat of death.

here are people we're very sure should be investigated."

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