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U.N. report calls for Myanmar military leaders to face genocide charges

By Sommer Brokaw   |   Aug. 27, 2018 at 8:15 AM
Commando soldiers stand ready for a drill on the second day of the 'Sin Phyu Shin' joint military exercises in the Ayeyarwaddy delta region, Myanmar, on February 3. The two-day military exercise was the biggest since 1997, involving several different branches of the country's armed forces. File Photo by Lynn Bo Bo/EPA-EFE

Aug. 27 (UPI) -- United Nations investigators said Monday top generals in Myanmar should be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Though another international human rights group, Fortify Rights, condemned the country's violence against the Rohingya as genocide last month, the new U.N. investigative report, based on 875 interviews, is considered the strongest condemnation from the United Nations of the violence so far.

The U.N. Human Rights Council's independent investigative report said that Myanmar's armed forces have failed to respect international humanitarian law since its counterinsurgency policy began in the 1960s with civilians being killed, entire villages being destroyed and displacement of hundreds of thousands.

The latest violence was sparked in August 2017, when a small number of Rohingya insurgents attacked police outposts, some with improvised explosive devices, killing 12 security officers.

"The security forces' response, starting within hours, was immediate, brutal and grossly disproportionate," the report said, with operations that "terrorized the entire Rohingya population."

"As a result, nearly 725,000 Rohingya had fled to Bangladesh by mid-August 2018."

The Independent Fact Finding Mission said thousands of people have been killed or injured with a conservative estimate of up to 10,000 deaths with large-scale killings, gang rapes and arson attacks.

The inquiry said in one village alone in the Rakhine State, Min Gyi, "women and girls were taken to nearby houses, gang raped, then killed or severely injured.

"Houses were locked and set on fire. Few survived. In numerous other villages the number of casualties was also markedly high. Bodies were transported in military vehicles, burned and disposed of in mass graves."

"These policies and practices violate Myanmar's obligations under international law and amount to criminal conduct," it added. "They are also unwarranted; military necessity would never justify killing indiscriminately, gang raping women, assaulting children, and burning entire villages. The Tatmadaw's (Myanmar's armed forces') tactics are consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats, especially in Rakhine State, but also in northern Myanmar."

The report said that generals carried out these crimes with "genocidal intent" and the commander in chief and five generals should be prosecuted in relation to recent events in the Rakhine State.

The independent investigators said that the Security Council should ensure accountability for the crimes under international law committed in Myanmar by referring the case to the International Criminal Court.