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UN: Myanmar Military Command Must be Investigated for Genocide

FILE - An aerial view shows burned down villages once inhabited by the Rohingya seen from the Myanmar military helicopters that carried the U.N. envoys to northern Rakhine state, Myanmar, May 1, 2018.

The U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar is calling for members of Myanmar’s top military command to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya people in Rakhine State.

The report by the U.N. fact-finding mission presents in searing detail what it describes as crimes that shock the human conscience. It says its year-long investigation has uncovered credible evidence that the Myanmar military has committed the most serious crimes under international law.

Marzuki Darusman, leader of the mission, says the killings, gang rapes of women and girls, the burning and looting of homes and other atrocities in Rakhine State were well-planned. He says they were part of a deliberate attack on a specific civilian population, the Rohingya, by the Myanmar military, known as Tatmadaw.

“We have concluded that the Rohingya constitute a protected group, that the acts of the Tatmadaw and other security forces fall within four of the five categories of genocidal acts and, finally, that all the circumstances are such as to warrant an inference of genocidal intent,” said Darusman.

The eruption of violence in August 2017 triggered a mass-exodus of three-quarters of a million Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh. Darusman says the persecution that drove the Rohingya to flee Myanmar persists and that it is not safe for refugees to return.

The report also accuses the Tatmadaw of committing acts in Kachin and Shan States that might constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Members of the fact-finding mission have drawn up a list of senior military commanders who, they say, must be investigated and prosecuted for genocidal acts.

Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, scorned the investigators. He called their findings one-sided, lacking in impartiality and detrimental to his government’s efforts to find long-term solutions to the situation in Rakhine State.

He said his government has deep sympathy for the displaced, especially women and girls, and is ready to receive those wishing to return.