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New briefing highlights how a democratic Myanmar is impossible without justice

May 12th, 2021  •  Author:   Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK  •  5 minute read
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Media Release from Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

For Immediate Release: 12th May 2021

New briefing highlights how a democratic Myanmar is impossible without justice

Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) and the international community must put justice for atrocity crimes at the centre of all efforts to restore democracy following the military coup, the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) said.

In a new briefing released today, BROUK sets out the paths available to pursue international justice for the brutal violence unleashed by the Tatmadaw (military) against people in Myanmar, both in the context of the post-coup protests and in years prior. The briefing urges the NUG to clearly and publicly announce its support for such international justice efforts, including for crimes against the Rohingya.

“Justice is the only way to break the cycle of violence in Myanmar. The Tatmadaw felt empowered to launch a brazen military coup because it has never been held to account for its crimes in the past, including the genocide against the Rohingya. This must end now,” said Tun Khin, President of BROUK.

“The NUG, with international backing, must seize this opportunity to show its commitments to human rights by declaring its full support for international justice efforts. All people in Myanmar deserve to see perpetrators held to account, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or politics – a genuinely inclusive democracy will be impossible without it.”

Since the coup on 1 February, the UN Special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar and other experts have accused the Tatmadaw of committing crimes against humanity by killing, torturing and arbitrarily arresting peaceful protesters and others.

These crimes add to the Tatmadaw’s brutal track record of violence and abuse in Myanmar over several decades. Human rights groups have credibly documented war crimes and crimes against humanity by the military in ethnic areas including Kachin, Karen and Shan States. In 2016 and 2017, the military and it proxies also committed violence amounting to genocide against the Rohingya people in Rakhine State.

In recent years, momentum has been building behind international justice efforts, including at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Today’s briefing by BROUK highlights how the NUG, which was established in April, can concretely support these efforts:

International Criminal Court: The NUG should publicly commit to supporting the investigation into atrocity crimes launched by the ICC in November 2019, as well as its intention to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC as soon as it is possible. It should furthermore publicly call for Members of the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Myanmar to the ICC to ensure a comprehensive investigation into the full range of military crimes across the country.

International Court of Justice: Similarly, the NUG should publicly express its support for the genocide case brought against Myanmar by The Gambia in 2019 and offer its full cooperation with the Court. The NUG should furthermore commit to supporting the order to end the genocide against the Rohingya issued by the ICJ in January 2020, and publicly spell out the measures it intends to take to this effect.

Universal jurisdiction: The NUG should support cases launched under universal jurisdiction, the legal principle that some crimes are so horrific that they can be tried anywhere regardless of where they took place or the nationality of the perpetrator. Such support should include a commitment to repealing immunity for past military crimes enshrined in the Myanmar constitution, and pursuing the extradition of alleged perpetrators to countries where universal jurisdiction processes make that pertinent.

While it is welcome that some NUG officials have called for international justice efforts following the 1 February coup, it is crucial that such processes cover the full range of crimes committed by the Tatmadaw. This should, for example, including violence against ethnic minorities and the genocide against the Rohingya.

BROUK furthermore urges the NUG to show its commitment to respecting the human rights of everyone in Myanmar, including the Rohingya. The Government should ensure it includes representatives from the Rohingya community, and commit to ending all repressive policies against the Rohingya, including by withdrawing the 1982 Citizenship Law that has denied Rohingya citizenship for decades.

“Rohingya support the people of Myanmar’s struggle for democracy and human rights. We have a common enemy in the Tatmadaw, and want nothing but to create a peaceful, inclusive and prosperous country. To make this possible, the NUG must clearly commit to repealing all repressive policies against the Rohingya, including the full restoration of our citizenship rights, and publicly recognise that a genocide has taken place against us,” said Tun Khin.

“Justice is a crucial part of creating a new Myanmar free of military interference. The Tatmadaw has committed atrocity crimes with impunity for decades. Today we are seeing the tragic consequences of the failure to take action in years past.”

Full briefing HERE.

For more information, please contact Tun Khin +44 (0)7888714866.

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