UN report calls for prosecution of Myanmar’s military leaders for genocide

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A United Nations report has recommended that Myanmar’s military leaders, including the commander in chief, be prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes over their actions in ethnic and religious minority states.

The report has also drawn up a non-exhaustive list of alleged perpetrators of crimes under international law, indicating priority subjects for investigation and prosecution. The list that has been put forth in the “Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar” includes the names of alleged direct perpetrators, but focuses on those exercising effective control over them.

The Mission has included the Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief, Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing, as well as: Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Vice Senior-General Soe Win; Commander, Bureau of Special Operations-3, Lieutenant-General Aung Kyaw Zaw; Commander, Western Regional Military Command, Major-General Maung Maung Soe; Commander, 33rd Light Infantry Division, Brigadier-General Aung Aung; Commander, 99th Light Infantry Division, Brigadier-General Than Oo.

In the report, it has been said that the constitutional powers of the civilian authorities afford little scope for controlling the actions of the military regime known asTatmadaw. Nor is there any indication that they directly participated in planning or implementing security operations or were part of the command structure. The State Counsellor 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, or seek alternative avenues to meet a responsibility to protect the civilian population, the report saiOn the contrary, the civilian authorities have spread false narratives; denied the Tatmadaw’s wrongdoing; blocked independent investigations, including of the Fact-Finding Mission; and overseen destruction of evidence. Through their acts and omissions, the civilian authorities have contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes.

The reports says that human rights violations and abuses committed in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States are shocking for their horrifying nature and ubiquity. Many of these violations undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law. They are also shocking because they stem from deep fractures in society and structural problems that have been apparent and unaddressed for decades. They are shocking for the level of denial, normalcy and impunity that is attached to them, the report said. The Mission concludes that these abusive patterns are reflective of the situation in Myanmar as a whole.

stating that Myanmar as well as the international community has the responsibility and must take a united stand to both condemn the violations and assist Myanmar in addressing the root causes of its recurrent problems, tre report says that it should begin by ensuring that the perpetrators of crimes are held to account, and by giving hope to victims of a future without the fear and insecurity that have characterized their existence.

Some of the recommendations in the report are;

a) The international community, through the United Nations, should use all diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means to assist Myanmar in meeting its responsibility to protect its people from genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It should take collective action in accordance with the United Nations Charter, as necessary;

b) The Security Council should ensure accountability for crimes under international law committed in Myanmar, preferably by referring the situation to the International Criminal Court or alternatively by creating an ad hoc international criminal tribunal. Further, the Security Council should adopt targeted individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against those who appear most responsible for serious crimes under international law. It should also impose an arms embargo on Myanmar;

c) Until the Security Council acts, the General Assembly, or alternatively the Human Rights Council, should create an independent, impartial mechanism to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses and to prepare files to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings in national, regional or international courts or tribunals;

d) The Human Rights Council should continue to support the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and ensure they have adequate resources to maintain a strong focus on the human rights crisis in Myanmar;

e) The Human Rights Council should specifically request OHCHR to focus on ensuring accountability for human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar, including by enhanced monitoring, documentation, analysis and public reporting on the human rights situation;

f) raising awareness among civil society and other actors engaged in documenting human rights violations about relevant international standards; working with victim communities to raise awareness about justice options; and supporting comprehensive rule of law and security sector reform in Myanmar in line with international human rights norms and standards. Appropriate resources must be allocated;

g) The Human Rights Council should establish a second fact-finding mission for a limited period to build on the work undertaken by the Mission, until either one of the mechanisms outlined in (b) or (c) are operational, or the reinforced work of OHCHR set out in (e) is in place;

h) The United Nations should urgently adopt a common strategy to ensure that all engagement with Myanmar takes into account, and addresses, human rights concerns, in line with the Human Rights Up Front Action Plan. This should guide all UN engagement in Myanmar, particul

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