Crimes against humanity continue to be systematically committed in Myanmar (Burma), according to a report released by the UN’s International Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) on 9 August. Violent conflict -which has engulfed Myanmar since the military launched a coup in February 2021 – is disproportionately affecting women and children. The IIMM documented evidence of sexual and gender-based crimes, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as crimes against children perpetrated by members of the security forces and armed groups. Children in Myanmar have also been tortured, conscripted and arbitrarily detained, including as proxies for their parents.
“Crimes against women and children are amongst the gravest international crimes, but they are also historically underreported and under-investigated,” Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the IIMM, said in a press release. “Perpetrators of these crimes need to know that they cannot continue to act with impunity. We are collecting and preserving the evidence so that they will one day be held to account.”
The IIMM’s report was released two weeks before the five-year anniversary of the so-called “clearance operations” by the military against the Rohingya, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority, in Rakhine State. The operations were characterized by brutal violence and grave human rights violations on a mass scale. As a result, over 700,000 Rohingya were forced to flee to Bangladesh. Severe violations of universal human rights and the risk of atrocity crimes persists for the Rohingya population remaining in Myanmar as the military continues to perpetrate widespread and systematic human rights violations and abuses against civilians, particularly those from ethnic minority populations.
On 4 August Reuters released an investigative report based on a cache of thousands of official documents that provides significant insight into how Myanmar’s military planned the Rohingya genocide. The documents, collected by the Commission for International Justice and Accountability, reveal discussions and planning by senior military officials weeks before the “clearance operations” began, as well as their efforts to hide the operations from the international community.
Liam Scott, Myanmar Expert at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, said, “these reports clearly show that the previous government of Myanmar and the military systematically targeted populations within their borders, and that the military junta continues to do so. Based on the growing evidence of past and ongoing atrocity crimes, the UN Security Council should urgently refer the situation to the International Criminal Court and impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar. Moreover, additional states should formally intervene in The Gambia v. Myanmar Rohingya genocide case at the International Court of Justice.”