The Burmese government has consistently refused to cooperate with independent and impartial investigations into atrocity crimes in Rakhine State. More significantly, it has refused to recognize these crimes and rejected measures to secure justice and accountability at the domestic level – including steps to halt and prevent the recurrence of such crimes. In doing so, it has dismissed evidence of crimes, including allegations of rape and murder, as “fake news”, participated in the destruction of evidence, and justified crimes by categorizing unarmed civilians as “terrorists”.
Since the first wave of anti-Rohingya/anti-Muslim violence hit Rakhine State in 2012, the government has overseen eight investigations, most recently the Commission of Enquiry (CoE) initiated by State Counsellor (SC) Aung San Suu Kyi in August 2018. All investigations largely concluded that state forces had not committed crimes or denied that crimes had taken place at all.
These ongoing crimes against Rohingya, Kachin, Shan, and other minorities will continue without international measures to secure accountability. Accountability and measures to halt crimes against unarmed civilians will also ease the severe loss of trust in the country’s peace process. Accountability and the necessary accompanying reforms are key to durable solutions for the crisis of displaced Rohingya, as well as displaced Kachin and Shan populations. But recent statements made by SC Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the recent government-appointed CoE, along with political and constitutional structures embedding the Tatmadaw’s influence over Burmese society, indicate that authorities are unwilling and unable to prevent ongoing atrocity crimes.
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