Myanmar: Geneva Council calls to ICC Prosecutores to open case on genocide counts


Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties welcomes the decision of the International Criminal Court based on Article 15 of the Rome Statute to authorise an innvestigation into the situation in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh/Republic of the Union of Myanmar. However, we are concerned that the investigation and following prosecutions would be limited to the alleged crimes of forced deportation and persecution. Widespread, systemic and organised abuse of Rohingya minority in Myanmar with an obvious intent to destroy this group amounts to the international crime of genocide. The persecution of this ethnic group since 1982 in combination with the widespread criminal acts committed against them since 2012 fulfil the elements of genocide as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Genocide Convention. Namely, killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part and imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. Therefore, we urge the ICC prosecutors to consider opening the case on counts of genocide.

In September, Mr. Marzuki Darusman, Chair of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar made a ground-breaking affirmation during the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council that they found genocidal acts and the inference of genocidal intent, in the Tatmadaw’s 2017 “clearance operations” against the Rohingya population and recommended further investigation of these crimes to establish individual criminal responsibility as a basis for future prosecution. The Chair Marsuki confirmed that the completion of the transfer of the Mission’s materials to the Investigative Mechanism including 1,227 interviews with victims and witnesses from a total of 56,500 files and a list of over one hundred and fifty people suspected of involvement in numerous international crimes.

The situation of Muslim minority in Rakhine state of Myanmar remains alarming after violence of 2017 which led to exodus of estimated 700,000 Rohingya to neigbouring Bangladesh. The mass atrocities against Rohingya continue to these days despite the international calls to cease persecution of this religious minority group. Widespread, systemic, organised discrimination and criminal acts committed against Rohingya with an obvious intent to destroy this group may amount to the international crime of genocide. The persecution of this ethnic group since 1982 in combination with hatred rhetoric, persecution and widespread violence against them since 2012 fulfil the elements of genocide as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Genocide Convention.

UN OCHA reports that to date that “the Rohingya population that remains in Rakhine continues to face discriminatory policies and practices, including segregation, severe movement restrictions and denial of rights. In some areas, fear, distrust and hostility continues between communities, which particularly affects women and children. Incidents of intimidation, harassment, extortion and abuse continue to be reported across the state. The combination of protracted displacement, statelessness, segregation, limited access to livelihoods opportunities and quality services (such as health and education).”

Myanmar is repeatedly condemned for grave breaches of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. However, these violations are not adequately investigated, perpetrators enjoy impunity, victims are denied the right to effective remedy and reparation. The excuses given by the government such as young democracy in Myanmar and complexity of the situation is unacceptable. It is clear, Myanmar government is unable or unwilling to protect Rohingya ethnic minority and civilians in the areas of armed conflict in accordance with international law. It is time for the international community to take bold actions and make referral to the International Criminal Court to start investigation on the accounts of commissioned genocide.


It is well-known that the Myanmar humanitarian catastrophe with escalating armed hostilities between the ethnic minority groups and the government for more than half of a century is described by serious violations of international humanitarian law by all parties: indiscriminate killings, enforced disappearances, rape and sexual violence, forced labour and trafficking in human beings, recruitment of child soldiers among state and non-state forces, use of human shields, forced displacement and conditional humanitarian access. Moreover, this abusive and chaotic environment coupled with the inadequate legal framework fails short to protect local communities and environment from damaging activities of transnational corporations. Human rights abuse includes infringement of the rights to life, liberty, security of person, freedoms of assembly and association, freedom of movement, freedom from torture, cruel and inhuman treatment and punishment, sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, unjust labour practices, piracy, slavery and slave trading, as well as war crimes.

Myanmar government fails to ensure the halt of persecution and serious abuse against ethnic minorities, particularly Rohingya religious minority. The incitement to discrimination and violence based on national, racial and religious hatred is widespread and systematic. Within the general context of anti-Muslim rhetoric, the government and security forces implement persecution policy for decades. The ethnic minorities are targeted within the so-called “Burmanization” policy and the most shocking is the case of Rohingya referred by some Burmese Generals as “unfinished business”. Rohingya community of approximately 1,3 million members mostly live in Rakhine State for centuries with historical roots in Myanmar dating back to ancient times. Nevertheless, the government refuses to give them the nationality and instead it uses the term “Bengali” to refer to Rohingya as foreigners.

In 2017, whilst the national state and local government authorities carry out discriminatory policies, the security forces implement so called “clearance operations”. The Myanmar armed forces (Tatmadaw) and the Border Guard Police Force of Myanmar deliberately kill the Rohingya civilians by grenades, random and targeted shootings, stabbings, throat slit, by beaten them up to death and burning them in houses. The most disturbing reports note the killings of babies and small children, in many cases in front of the eyes of their raped mothers. Rohingya children, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and others are subject of torture and ill-treatment in public, in their houses and make-shift detention locations. It includes brutal physical assaults, death threats, forcing to sit in so called ‘stress positions’ for hours up to 3 days, psychological torture by forcing victims, even children, to watch suffering of their relatives. It was reported that hundreds of Rohingya boys and men are randomly “rounded up” by the Myanmar security forces, fertile women and girls separated from them and taken away; their whereabouts are unknown.

Women and girls, including pregnant, are raped and sexually abused either at home in front of their family members or in the places of displacement, in many cases gang rapes, as punishment or with the aim to extract information about insurgents or simply to be used as domestic service. Moreover, the Rakhine villagers dressed either in military uniform or in civilian clothing joined the abuses against the Rohingya community members

by looting houses, beating, raping and other sexual abuse. There are recounts of cases when fire brigades poured petrol to fire spread on burning houses of Rohingya.

Thus, the following horrendous crimes committed by the Burmese government, police, army and ordinary people against Rohingya based on their ethnic and religious belonging are well-documented:

–  widespread killings in an organised and systematic manner;

–  rape and other forms of sexual violence;

–  torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;

–  extrajudicial and summary executions;

–  excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and detention, inhumane conditions and ill-treatment in detention facilities;

–  enforced disappearance;

–  occupation, looting and deliberate destruction of housing and food sources;

–  blockages of humanitarian assistance;

–  segregation and retaliation;

–  denial of citizenship;

–  restrictions on freedom of movement, limited or lack of any access to education, to emergency and basic healthcare.

•The International Criminal Court should investigate the crime of genocide and bring perpetrators to justice.

•All parties to conflict should ensure compliance with international humanitarian law.

•Myanmar should accede without delay or reservation to key international human rights treaties and their additional protocols, including to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and Protocol Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and implement their provisions in law, policy and practice.

•The Myanmar government (the Government) should grant full access to the UN mechanism to collect evidence of most serious international crimes committed in Myanmar.

•The Government should repeal discriminatory legislative and policy measures targeting religious and ethnic minorities, lift restrictions on movement that impede access to health and education services, intensify its efforts to address discrimination, to counter incitement to hatred and hate speech leading to violence and it should enact legislation and implement policies to grant Rohingya the Myanmar nationality and promote equality, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

•The Government should enhance cooperation with the UN agencies and special-mandate procedures to coordinate strategies to address the current and prevent future mass atrocities.

http://Myanmar statement Nov 2019.pdf


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