A report released by Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar on Tuesday said many Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh want to return to their home country of Myanmar, but this return depends on accountability for the atrocities committed against them. The scope for that accountability and justice is still limited.
The report will be discussed at the UN Human Rights Council session in September.
IIMM will present the report to the United Nations at a time when Bangladesh is trying to start repatriating Rohingya, albeit on a limited scale. IIMM was established by the United Nations in 2018 to ensure accountability for crimes committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar. The framework collects, preserves and analyzes evidence of serious crimes committed against the people of Myanmar, including the Rohingya.
According to this year’s IIMM report, despite limitations, they have collected more than 3 million data from more than 200 sources. These include interview statements, videos, photographs, geospatial images and social media data. IIMM has already started providing this information to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Office of the Counsel of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the Argentina court. Evidence collected indicates that security forces and armed groups in Myanmar have committed rape, sexual violence and other crimes against children. Children were tortured and detained without their parents; even children have been forced to join armed groups. IIMM report also said that in August this year, IIMM is completing three years of its activities. On the other hand, this August marks the fifth anniversary of the military’s eradication campaign in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. About 1 million Rohingya were displaced in the 2017 campaign.
IIMM said in its report, “Sadly, progress in ending impunity for the Rohingya and the people of Myanmar and ensuring accountability for the crimes committed remains limited.”
According to the report, crimes against humanity are being committed continuously in Myanmar. The ongoing conflict has a major impact on women and children. Evidence of crimes against humanity in Myanmar is mounting.
“Crimes against women and children are among the most serious international crimes,” said Nicholas Koumjian, head of IIMM. However, historically, these crimes are less known. Investigations are also less. He said, “IIMM members are collecting information and investigating to ensure the prosecution of these crimes. Criminals should know they won’t get away. We are gathering evidence. One day they will be judged.”
According to the IIMM report, there have been numerous indications of widespread and sustained attacks on civilians since the military seized power in February last year. The types of potential crimes are also expanding. IIMM-head Koumjian said, “The Rohingya are keen to return safely and with dignity, but unless the people who committed the most serious crimes against them and the atrocities committed against them are brought to justice, it will be very difficult to achieve that goal (return to Myanmar).”