PRESS RELEASE – Myanmar: IHRC report charges Myanmar with genocide against Rohingya

From: Islamic Human Rights Commission

26 June 2018

PRESS RELEASE – Myanmar: IHRC report charges Myanmar with genocide against Rohingya

The government of Myanmar should be charged with genocide and crimes against humanity over its maltreatment of the Rohingya population according to a hard-hitting report published today by IHRC.

Based on first-hand accounts of the atrocities suffered by the Rohingya in and around 25 August 2017, the report presents a compelling case for bringing Myanmar officials before the International war Crimes Tribunal in the Hague.

IHRC conducted a field visit to Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh to record the experiences of some of the 700,000 refugees who have fled Myanmar to escape the government pogroms in and around late August 2017. In interviews with victims and eye-witnesses IHRC was able to gather evidence of the atrocities carried out by Myanmar against the Rohingya.

Of the 22 individuals interviewed by the IHRC, 19 said that they had relatives or knew people who had been either killed or seriously injured by the Myanmar military. One interviewee estimated the death toll in his own village at more than 400 people. Another interviewee mentioned his mother being burnt alive, while another mentioned her father being shot dead. Others reported people being killed in mine blasts or being beheaded by the military. Three of those interviewed stated that women in their villages had also been raped.

These accounts chime with evidence collected by other human rights organisations which detail widespread and unlawful killings as well as rape carried out by the Myanmar security forces, at times with the support of vigilante mobs in their execution of a scorched-earth campaign.

Myanmar is a signatory to the Genocide Convention whose signatories accept that genocide is an international crime. Under the convention Myanmar is bound to prevent and punish genocide. However it is clear that the state refuses to acknowledge that potential international crimes may have been committed, denying that atrocities have taken place and claiming that its actions against the Rohingya were taken to tackle terrorism.

This failure makes it imperative for the ICC to step in. The ICC is only mandated to investigate cases where the state in question is unwilling or incapable of doing so.

IHRC’s report finds that the three legal elements required to bring a prosecution under the charge of genocide are all present in the case of the Rohingya. Firstly they are a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Secondly the acts committed by Myanmar against the Rohingya such as killing, forcible transfer, and preventing births constitute genocide. And thirdly that the actions of Myanmar demonstrate a clear intent to destroy in part or in whole the Rohingya minority.

IHRC’s report will add to the growing body of evidence against Myanmar over its treatment of the Rohingya. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), citing data from the Bangladeshi government, reported in March that as many as 47,000 parents may have been killed during the Myanmar government’s orgy of violence last summer. Human rights groups have uncovered evidence of many massacres and mass killings stretching back to 2016 as well.

We welcome the ICC decision last week to give authorities in Myanmar until July 27 to respond to a request for the ICC to exercise jurisdiction over the alleged crimes. Although the court has no jurisdiction in Myanmar since it is not a member state of the international tribunal, it argues that the crossing of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya into neighbouring Bangladesh, which is a party, means the tribunal could seek powers of jurisdiction nonetheless.

Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 2017 and the UN Commissioner for Human Rights has called the Rohingya crisis “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

IHRC’s report recommends that the UN Security Council refer Myanmar’s actions against the Rohingya on and around 25 August 2017 to the ICC Prosecutor in accordance with Article 13(2) of the Rome Statute since it is evident that Myanmar is unwilling and unable to investigate the crimes itself.

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Notes to editors:

The full report can be read here

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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

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