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Over a year since the mass displacement of the Rohingya community in Rakhine state, Myanmar, the UN has released a report which calls for Myanmar’s senior military official to be prosecuted for genocide and war crimes. The report calls for the case of the Rohingya people to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and for those responsible to be held accountable for their actions. The report refers to the violent attacks launched by the Burmese military against Rohingya people on August 25th, 2017. The attacks saw 700,000 Rohingya flee their homes.
The mission was established by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017. The report is “the strongest condemnation from the UN so far of violence against Rohingya,” the BBC claims. Zaw Htay, a spokesman for Myanmar’s presidential office, told CNN that “there is no evidence that Myanmar soldiers committed any human rights violations” and that the soldiers were merely responding to attacks by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Htay continued to ensure that the government had “recently formed a new independent commission” to investigate the alleged abuses, however, the government’s history of denial and affiliation with the army leaves the international community questioning the reliability of the commission.
Since the international community became aware of the atrocities being carried out in the Rakhine state, the Myanmar government has consistently rejected international reports shaming the state for committing genocide. Due to the government’s denial, little action has been carried out to help the displaced people and the victims of the attack. The report specifically notes the lack of action taken by Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and condemns that she “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 chairman of the investigative mission, Marzuki Darusman, says that information collected includes data from 875 interviews with victims and witnesses, satellite imagery, and verified photos and videos, Al Jazeera reports. The UN report identifies six military leaders, in particular, including Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing. It highlights the tragedies experienced by the Rohingya people in a campaign which Francis Wade, author of Myanmar’s Enemy Within: Buddhist Violence and the Making of the Muslim “Other”, claims to have engineering “since the early 1990s.” As of April 2018, an approximate 700,000 Rohingya had been driven into Bangladesh, with over half of them being children. Although safe from the hands of the Burmese military, the displaced Rohingya continue to experience sexual assault and abuse in the now world’s largest refugee camp, Cox Bazar.
Genocide has been committed. The report conducted by the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar concludes that the actions of the Burmese military “undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law,” the CNN reports. The report claims that the evidence coming out of Myanmar shares undeniable similarities to previous examples of genocide and crimes “that have allowed genocidal intent to be established in other contexts.” Those responsible for the crimes in Rakhine State must be held accountable for the actions. If action is not taken, the international community is setting a precedent for future perpetrators of genocide to go unpunished.