Only justice can save Myanmar’s future

June 26th, 2023  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  8 minute read
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Although the same military has been repeatedly applying the same patterns to commit these atrocities, the international community continues to allow these war criminals to enjoy blanket impunity. The cowardly Myanmar military has been enabled to evade justice for decades as the international community has allowed it to do so.

Testimonies of Rohingya genocide survivors and witnesses at the Argentine federal court are a grim reminder that justice and accountability remain elusive for victims of the Myanmar military’s decades-long human rights violations and atrocity crimes. Only the guarantee of justice will lead to a durable solution to the current human rights and humanitarian catastrophe and Myanmar’s future. The international community must take all necessary steps to hold the Myanmar military to account.

The spotlight once again returns to justice and accountability – or lack thereof – for ethnic minorities in Myanmar as the UN Human Rights Council’s 53rd Regular Session kicks off on 19 June 2023. In parallel with this, a couple of weeks before the session, a federal court in Buenos Aires, Argentina, started the hearing of a historic universal jurisdiction case, filed by the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) in November 2019, against Myanmar military leaders for the Rohingya genocide. Rohingya witnesses testified about the heinous crimes committed by the Myanmar military from 2012 to 2018, which led to mass forced displacement within and across Myanmar borders.

The complaint incriminated the Myanmar military and its soldiers in rape and other forms of sexual violence against numerous Rohingya women and girls. Notably, “large-scale gang rape was perpetrated by soldiers in at least 10 village tracts in Rakhine state.” At times, groups of up to 40 women and girls were raped or gang-raped together, even in public and in front of their families, “to maximize humiliation.” Another horrendous incident exposed in the complaint was the massacre of Min Gyi Village, Maungdaw Township in Rakhine State, on 30 August 2017, where the Myanmar military slaughtered at least 750 people. Men were killed, and their bodies were thrown into pits and incinerated. Women and girls were robbed, raped, and stabbed, while children were slain. In 2020, a Myanmar military deserter who took part in a Rohingya massacre in 2017, confessed that he followed an order from his commanding officer to “Kill all you see, whether children or adults.”

The Myanmar military has never deviated from its plan to persecute and exterminate the Rohingya people, even after the genocide. A total of 1.6 million Rohingya have been forcibly displaced by the Myanmar military between 2012 and 2017, with over 900,000 living in extremely congested camps in Bangladesh. Some of them are now being used by the military junta as a political pawn in its repatriation “pilot project” to return to internment camps in Myanmar without any guarantee of their rights, particularly restoration of their citizenship. This will add to over 140,000 Rohingya confined in Rakhine State’s overcrowded, flood-prone internment camps since 2012, who recently faced the junta’s wilful negligence and weaponization of humanitarian aid during Cyclone Mocha. BROUK warned that the junta’s tactics are all designed to result in “slow death” for Rohingya.

The Rohingya massacre is far from an outlier in the military’s history of violations against innocent civilian populations. The Myanmar military has committed uncountable war crimes and crimes against humanity against ethnic minorities throughout Myanmar’s history. These crimes have only become more exacerbated against the nationwide democratic resistance movement against the military after its illegal attempted coup in 2021. One example is the Muso Massacre, also known as the Christmas Eve Massacre, in Hpruso Township, Karenni State, where junta troops killed at least 35 Karenni civilians. Another mass killing happened this March in Pinlaung, Southern Shan State, where junta troops killed 23 civilians from the Pa-O community. These are only a few examples among countless more.

Although the same military has been repeatedly applying the same patterns to commit these atrocities, the international community continues to allow these war criminals to enjoy blanket impunity. The cowardly Myanmar military has been enabled to evade justice for decades as the international community has allowed it to do so. The UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2669 fails to produce concrete actions to stop the Myanmar military’s terror campaign against the people of Myanmar. Pa Zi Gyi Village aerial attack that killed almost 200 civilians happened only a week after the adoption of another annual resolution by the UN Human Rights Council, which demanded the junta immediately cease all airstrikes. This is merely another clear evidence of the junta’s total disregard for the international community’s repeated empty calls. Only concrete actions to hold the junta accountable for its crimes can stop the ongoing horrific acts committed nationwide against the people of Myanmar.

Excruciating testimonials of Rohingya witnesses, including the victims of sexual and gender-based violence, must not be just another reminder of the junta’s crimes. The international community must take them seriously and pledge to bring about justice and accountability for those victims and survivors violated by the Myanmar military. This must be done through concerted efforts to pursue all available mechanisms and avenues to actualize justice and accountability, including a UNSC resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and for UN member states, agencies, and mechanisms to provide financial, political and technical support for ongoing universal jurisdiction efforts in Argentina, Germany, Indonesia, and Turkey. Now is the time for the UN and member states to live up to their mandates and obligations by ending the culture of impunity that has plagued Myanmar’s history. As Tun Khin, president of the BROUK said, “Holding the military accountable for genocide of the Rohingya will benefit everyone in Burma.”


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

ASEAN: Joint Statement delivered by the CSOs with Consultative Status with AICHR on the 37th AICHR Meeting

By 30 Civil Society Organizations

Open Letter: Don Pramudwinai .. “Don’t interfere” “Do not escalate violence in our country”

By 340 Organizations

Myanmar: Military Authorities Exacerbate the Suffering Caused by Cyclone Mocha

By Amnesty International

Southeast Asian MPs condemn the Myanmar military’s response to Cyclone Mocha and urge support for local organizations 

By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

BHRN Marks Anniversary of Rohingya Confinement in IDP Camps

By Burma Human Rights Network

Austria’s Diamond Aircraft Industries’ tech transfer deal with Myanmar military apparent breach of EU arms embargo

By Justice For Myanmar

Press Release – “Why would they target us?”: Exploring patterns of the Burma Army’s retaliatory abuses against villagers across Southeast Burma

By Karen Human Rights Group

A Brief account of the establishment of the Interim Executive Council of Karenni State(IEC)

By Karenni State Interim Executive Council

Statement on the Invitation Extended to Illegitimate Junta to Attend Informal Discussion on Myanmar Issue by Thailand’s caretaker government

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Notification for Myanmar Nationals who take refuge in India due to security concerns (1/2023)

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Condemnation of the Brutal Moebya Massacre by the genocidal Military Junta (SAC) in Myanmar

By National Unity Government (Ministry of International Cooperation Myanmar)

New report documents over 6,000 civilians killed in 20 months since Myanmar coup – significantly higher than previously reported

By Peace Research Institute Oslo

Cancel Thailand’ Plan to Invite Criminal Junta’ Rep to Bangkok

By Thailand for Burma

Humanitarian access suspended in cyclone-ravaged Rakhine State

By United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs



Coup Watch May 2023 – Cyclone Mocha: Illegal junta obstructs humanitarian aid

By ALTSEAN-Burma, Asia Democracy Network , Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Burma Human Rights Network, Initiatives for International Dialogue, International Federation for Human Rights, Progressive Voice , US Campaign for Burma, Women’s Peace Network

“Why would they target us?”: Exploring patterns of the Burma Army’s retaliatory abuses against villagers across Southeast Burma

By Karen Human Rights Group

IEC: A Unique Feature Of The Spring Revolution – Issue 108

By Myanmar Peace Monitor

Counting Myanmar’s Dead: Reported Civilian Casualties since the 2021 Military Coup

By Peace Research Institute Oslo

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”