84 Rohingya, Kachin and Karen Groups worldwide call on the French government to ensure UN Security Council refer the situation in Burma/Myanmar to the ICC for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
March 5, 2019
We, the undersigned Rohingya, Kachin and Karen organisations worldwide, call on the French government to act to hold Burma/Myanmar military accountable for genocide against Rohingya in Rakhine and crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States.
Ensuring accountability and justice is a precondition for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their origin and an imperative to end the cycle of violence and impunity that Burma/Myanmar military has enjoyed for decades. The people of Burma/Myanmar suffer from unspeakable crimes with no perspective of access to internal justice.
Today, we call on France, which holds the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in March 2019, to undertake concrete action in compliance with its statements.
On September 20, 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed the hope that the international community would condemn the « genocide » against Rohingya people. He was among the first to use this qualification. He declared that France would take the initiative along with its partners at the Security Council and that he hoped the international community would act positively. In the course of November 2017, a draft resolution was initiated by France and Britain. Opposed by China and Russia, it failed to be adopted and the Security Council issued a presidential statement instead.
When the conclusions of the UN mandated Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) were first made public in August 2018, France declared itself extremely concerned as the charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, which fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC, could be retained against the Burma/Myanmar military.
France called for the international community to thoroughly support an initiative aiming at gathering and preserving evidence of the crimes and to act in order to hold perpetrators to account. On August 28, 2018, France also declared that it was «working with its partners, notably in the Security Council and in Human Rights Council, in order that all the consequences be drawn out from the conclusions of the FFM.»
In compliance with this statement, France provided support to the establishment of an independent investigative mechanism for collecting evidence and preparing files for future prosecutions, voted by the Human Rights Council. Yet, we believe this support should be in addition to action to bring the perpetrators of the crimes to justice. The FFM has indeed concluded that « the impetus for accountability must come from the international community».
The decision by the ICC over jurisdiction for the crime of deportation of the Rohingya to Bangladesh does not cover all the crimes under the definitions of genocide and crimes against humanity, nor does it cover the crimes committed against other ethnic communities. The FFM report brought to light the crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against other minorities in Kachin and Shan States.
Ensuring the Security Council acts on its mandate to refer Burma/Myanmar military to ICC therefore remains essential for any country outlining the importance of accountability and justice in Burma/Myanmar.
Yet, on September 24, 2018, France was still acknowledging to some point the new commission of enquiry established by the Burma/Myanmar government, instead of dismissing it completely for its lack of independence and impartiality and lack of mandate to address accountability.
Following the briefing by the FFM to the Security Council in October, a draft resolution was presented by Britain; however, we are dismayed to learn that this initiative did not achieve enough support to proceed for voting.
Whilst fully aware that any resolution, notably one which refers the situation in Burma/Myanmar to the ICC, could be vetoed by China and Russia; this has not prevented, with the same information at their disposal, countries such as Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden officially supporting a referral to the ICC by the Security Council. The gravity of the crimes under consideration demands such an official stand without further delay. It is the only act to be performed by France during its presidency of the Security Council, in view of the impact of its words and statements.
The victims of violations of international law are looking to the international community to perform its duty to uphold this law. There is an imperative to act on their behalf : supporting an ICC referral by the Security Council, in adopting the recommendations of the FFM, is to stand with the victims whilst at the same time sending a strong message to the perpetrators of the crimes they cannot enjoy impunity.
We therefore call on France to take a strong and firm stand for justice and accountability in Burma/Myanmar, as have done other countries. This stand should be followed by concerted efforts to ensure that the Security Council refers Burma/Myanmar to ICC. In addition, we call on France to exercise universal jurisdiction to hold the perpetrators of these crimes to account.
This joint statement is endorsed by:
Rohingya Community Worldwide
Kachin Community Worldwide
Karen Community Worldwide
And 84. Burma Human Rights Network (UK)
For more information, please contact :
+44 (0) 7888 714 866 (UK) firstname.lastname@example.org
+66 (0) 861 182 261 (Thailand) email@example.com
+ 1 (252) 571 7634 (United States)
Download the statement HERE.