UPDATE 2 – UN calls for genocide charges against Myanmar officials

UPDATES WITH PRESS CONFERENCE ON REPORT; CHANGES HEADLINE; EDITS THROUGHOUT

By Meryem Goktas and Bayram Altug

ANKARA/GENEVA (AA) – The UN on Monday called for an investigation and prosecution of Myanmar's top military officials for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against Rohingya Muslims.

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

"Military necessity would never justify killing indiscriminately, gang-raping women, assaulting children, and burning entire villages. The Tatmadaw’s [Myanmar's armed forces] tactics are consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats, especially in Rakhine State, but also in northern Myanmar," the report reads.

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

"The crimes in Rakhine State and the manner in which they were perpetrated are similar in nature, gravity and scope to those that have allowed genocidal intent to be established in other contexts," the report said.

The report stated that it prepared a “non-exhaustive list of alleged perpetrators of crimes under international law” linked to the recent abuses in Rakhine State which include the Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

It said that the list "can be shared with any competent and credible body pursuing accountability in line with recognized international norms and standards".

– Calls for resignation

The report also named Vice Senior-General Soe Win, deputy commander-in-chief; Lieutenant-General Aung Kyaw Zaw, commander of Bureau of Special Operations-3; Major-General Maung Maung Soe, commander of Western Regional Military Command; Brigadier-General Aung Aung, commander of the 33rd Light Infantry Division, and Brigadier-General Than Oo, commander of the 99th Light Infantry Division.

In a news conference in Geneva on Monday, head of the mission and human rights lawyer Marzuki Darusman stated that 875 interviews — of witnesses and victims — were done.

Darusman also called on the immediate resignation of Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing.

"The only way forward is to call for his resignation and stepping down immediately," he said.

The report does not exclude the involvement of other Myanmar security agencies alongside the military, which it says had used tactics "consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats".

“The Tatmadaw’s contempt for human life, integrity and freedom, and for international law generally, should be of concern to the entire population,” it added.

According to the report State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi did not prevent the crimes against Rohingya Muslims.

– 'Impetus for accountability'

"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 said.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has received international criticism for her failure to address the violence against Rohingya Muslims and to prevent it.

"The Government and the Tatmadaw have fostered a climate in which hate speech thrives, human rights violations are legitimized, and incitement to discrimination and violence facilitated," it added.

"The impetus for accountability must come from the international community," the report said.

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”.

The report 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”.

“It [Security Council] should also impose an arms embargo on Myanmar,” it added.

“There is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Tatmadaw chain of command so that a competent court can determine their liability for genocide in relation to the situation in Rakhine State,” the report said.

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, 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.

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.

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