NEW YORK (23 October 2019) – The head of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, Marzuki Darusman, told the General Assembly on Wednesday that Myanmar is failing in its obligations under the Genocide Convention to prevent, to investigate and to enact effective legislation criminalising and punishing genocide.
Mr. Darusman spoke to the General Assembly at the request of the Human Rights Council. He said the Mission’s findings are based on the fact that the policies, laws, individuals and institutions that laid the groundwork for the brutal “clearance operations” in 2016 and 2017 remain in place and strong.
Mr. Darusman said the Mission found that crimes under international law, which were reported on last year, continue to be committed by Myanmar’s military, called the Tatmadaw, throughout the country, impacting Myanmar’s ethnic communities.
Serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law have been committed in both northern Myanmar and in the context of the continuing conflict between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army in Rakhine State. “This confirms our previous conclusion that the cycle of impunity enables, and indeed fuels, this reprehensible conduct on the part of the security forces,” Mr Darusman said.
The harsh persecution of the Rohingya community in Myanmar continues unabated in defiance of the international community. The treatment of some 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Rakhine State is largely unchanged. Their situation has worsened, as they endure another year subjected to discrimination, segregation, movement restrictions and insecurity, without adequate access to livelihoods, land, basic services, including education and health care, or justice for past crimes committed against them by the Tatmadaw.
This makes the return to Rakhine State of close to one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh simply impossible, Mr. Darusman said.
Mr. Darusman took the opportunity of the Fact-Finding Mission’s final report to the General Assembly to call on Member States to remain vigilant. He said Myanmar had failed in its obligation to protect its people, making it all the more important that the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and the Security Council act to stop continued violations and prevent their re-occurrence. He asked Member States to prioritise the three areas.
First, he asked Member States to continue to authorise, through the Human Rights Council with the support of the General Assembly, public reporting mandates including the independent monitoring of the implementation of all the Fact-Finding Mission’s recommendations.
Second, he asked Member States to continue to pursue accountability, in light of what he termed a clear “accountability deficit” on the part of the Myanmar Government, and to mandate alternative accountability mechanisms, if needed.
Finally, he reiterated the Mission’s previous calls for financial and political disengagement from Myanmar’s military to help deter human rights violations. He asked the General Assembly to consider endorsing disengagement, while recommending targeted sanctions and an arms embargo by the Security Council.
These measures are required as “the human rights catastrophe in Myanmar has not ended,” Mr. Darusman said. He concluded that the hundreds of thousands of victims rightfully expect no less than the continued commitment by the international community to accountability and justice.
The Human Rights Council on 24 March 2017 decided (through Resolution A/HRC/RES/34/22) to dispatch urgently an independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State, including but not limited to arbitrary detention, torture and inhuman treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, forced displacement and unlawful destruction of property, with a view to ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims.
Marzuki Darusman, lawyer and human rights campaigner and former Attorney-General of Indonesia, is chair of the fact-finding mission. The other two members of the fact-finding mission are Radhika Coomaraswamy, a lawyer and former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict; and Christopher Sidoti, an international human rights lawyer and former Australian Human Rights Commissioner.
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