The gravest crimes under international law
On August 27, the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, which was tasked with investigating alleged human rights abuses in Myanmar, with a focus on Rakhine, announced their initial findings whereby it has been suggested that senior members of the Myanmar military, including commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, “be investigated and prosecuted” for genocide and human rights atrocities against the Rohingya and other minority groups in Myanmar. The report is the harshest indictment yet of the Myanmar military. The mission also said that crimes against humanity and war crimes were committed by the Tatmadaw in Rakhine State, as well as in Kachin and Shan states. Following are the main conclusions and recommendations of the report presented by the three-member commission headed by Marzuki Darusman.
1. The gross 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 Mission concludes that these abusive patterns are reflective of the situation in Myanmar as a whole.
2. Myanmar has a heavy responsibility to remedy the situation as a matter of the utmost urgency, or risk destroying its democratic reform process. The international community also bears responsibility and must take a united stand to both condemn the violations and assist Myanmar in addressing the root causes of its recurrent problems. This begins 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.
3. The steps required to address the human rights crises in Myanmar are well known. For nearly three decades, five consecutive Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Myanmar have presented annual reports to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, with detailed recommendations to all stakeholders. Similarly, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has formulated concrete recommendations, as have many international and national civil society organizations. The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State also presented a detailed report. These recommendations should be implemented immediately.
4. The Mission’s detailed report provides comprehensive recommendations. Here, it draws particular attention to the following priority areas for action by the international community:
(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;
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