Civil Society Organizations welcome US determination of genocide against Rohingya Myanmar military leadership must be prosecuted
Though it comes far too late, the decision of the US government to finally formally determine that the violence perpetrated by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya in 2017 in Rakhine State amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity is welcomed by 357 Myanmar CSOs and regional and international partners.
This announcement comes after over four years of tireless repeated efforts by Rohingya, supported by human rights groups within Myanmar and across the world in solidarity with their cause. They have continued to seek justice and accountability, the recognition of their rights, including the restoration of their citizenship, equal rights, freedom of movement, and for safe, voluntary and dignified return of Rohingya to their homes in Rakhine State.
As the long-awaited recognition of the atrocity crimes being determined by the US government is here, urgent actions must be taken towards criminal prosecution for these crimes and to ensure the protection of the remaining Rohingya in Rakhine State whose situation continues to be dire. Otherwise, this determination will languish as rhetoric and only serve to further embolden the Myanmar military that not only continues to implement its policies of genocide and persecute the remaining 600,000 Rohingya in Rakhine State, but is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against the people across the country.
The same military that committed genocide against the Rohingya are committing massacres, airstrikes, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary mass arrests, sexual and gender-based violence, violence against children and mass displacement following its attempted coup – an attempt that failed, largely due to courageous and united resistance from the people of Myanmar in defense of their democracy.
At the 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that systematic abuses by the military junta may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including deliberately targeting civilians with airstrikes and burning people alive. The impunity enjoyed by the Myanmar military must end and this can only be achieved through swift and rigorous justice and accountability.
We call on the United States Government to:
Recommend the UN Security Council adopt a resolution referring the situation in Myanmar to the ICC;
Recommend the International Criminal Court to accept the declaration lodged by the Myanmar government, the National Unity Government, under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute accepting the Court’s jurisdiction with respect to international crimes committed in Myanmar territory since 1 July 2002;
Formally support the ongoing case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice brought forward by The Gambia, including financial and legal assistance;
Call on the Congress to Pass the Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act of 2021 (BURMA Act 2021);
Impose further targeted sanctions against the military and its leadership, military businesses including specifically targeting Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), military-linked business partners and network of arms dealers;
Increase aid to Rohingya genocide survivors in Bangladesh and other countries, and advocate for Bangladesh to adopt sustainable policies for hosting Rohingya refugees, including immediate access to education for all Rohingya children.
Direct USAID to coordinate emergency humanitarian aid provision efforts, including through cross-border channels, for the aid to reach to most vulnerable populations of more than 889,000 IDPs resulted from the military violence and airstrikes, and combat COVID-19, by providing resources and working in equal and meaningful partnership and collaboration with ethnic and community-based humanitarian and civil society organizations;
Coordinate to impose a global arms embargo on the Myanmar military; and,
Sanction the supply of jet fuel to the Myanmar military to end airstrikes.
Progressive Voice is a participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organization rooted in civil society, that maintains strong networks and relationships with grassroots organizations and community-based organizations throughout Myanmar. It acts as a bridge to the international community and international policymakers by amplifying voices from the ground, and advocating for a rights-based policy narrative.