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Myanmar Generals Should Face Genocide Charges Over Rohingya, U.N. Says
By Nick Cumming-Bruce reports for The New York Times from Geneva.
Myanmar’s army commander and other top generals should face trial in an international court for genocide against Rohingya Muslims and for crimes against humanity targeting other ethnic minorities, United Nations experts said on Monday after a yearlong investigation.
Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the commander in chief of Myanmar’s army, is one of six generals named as priority subjects for investigation and prosecution by a United Nations Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar in a report detailing military campaigns involving atrocities that “undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law.”
The three-member panel leveled the most serious charge, genocide, over the ferocious campaign unleashed by the Buddhist-majority security forces against Rohingya Muslims a year ago. That campaign, in the state of Rakhine, sent more than 700,000 fleeing across the border to Bangladesh.
In an 18-page report released on Monday, the panel described the Rakhine operations as a “foreseeable and planned catastrophe” building on decades of oppression of Rohingya Muslims. Myanmar has long falsely classified the Rohingya as “Bengali” immigrants from Bangladesh, denying them citizenship and making them vulnerable to attack, including previous assaults in 2012 and 2016.
The panel found evidence of genocidal intent in the operation, citing the prevailing rhetoric of hate directed at the Rohingya and statements by military commanders as well as “the level of organization indicating a plan for destruction; and the extreme scale and brutality of the violence.”
The panel said estimates of 10,000 deaths in the Rakhine campaign were conservative and cited harrowing witness accounts of mass killings, gang rapes of women and young girls and the wholesale destruction of villages by the military, known as the Tatmadaw.
Myanmar’s civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and other civilian authorities “contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes” by failing to use their positions to stop them, the panel said.
Elsewhere, “scorched earth” operations by the military against Kachin and Shan ethnic minorities in northern Myanmar revealed similar patterns of attacks and sexual violence against civilians, the panel said.
Nobel Peace Laureate Could Face Prosecution Over Myanmar Military’s Actions — GENEVA — Myanmar’s civilian leader, a Nobel laureate once extolled as a champion of democracy, could face prosecution for crimes against humanity because of the military’s attacks on Rohingya Muslims and other minority groups, United Nations investigators said on Tuesday.
Their statement was a new sign of how far the leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, had fallen from grace in the three years since she took office, overshadowed by the military’s campaign against the Rohingya.
She was first acclaimed as an icon of the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar, having won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and endured many years of house arrest. Now she has become an international pariah for her government’s response to brutal oppressions by Myanmar’s military.
Since Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi took office in 2016, she has drawn fierce criticism for failing to challenge the military, known as the Tatmadaw, over its atrocities in Rakhine State, home to many Rohingya Muslims. Critics have also assailed her for the repression of political freedoms.
In a report to the United Nations top human rights body in Geneva on Tuesday, a panel of investigators, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, said the 660,000 Rohingya people who remain in Myanmar face systematic persecution.
The policies and practices that laid the basis for the military and allied militia campaigns of 2017 are still in place, he told the Human Rights Council. “Impunity continues. Discrimination continues. Hate speech continues. Persecution continues,” he said.##