Amnesty says Myanmar army may be committing crimes against humanity

A report released today by Amnesty International says the actions of Myanmar security forces in Rakhine State may constitute crimes against humanity – “crimes so serious that they are the concern not only of their victims, survivors or the state in question, but of humanity as a whole”.

The report recounts the deployment of large number of Myanmar security forces to Rakhine State following the pre-dawn attack by the Rohingya militant group Harakat Al-Yaqin on October 9. Since then, reports of random killings of civilians, rape, arson against whole villages and arbitrary arrests of Rohingya men have emerged from the conflict zone.

According to the report:

The response of the army to attacks on security forces went far beyond what is necessary and proportional. Instead of investigating and arresting specific suspects, the army carried out operations which amount to collective punishment, targeting individuals clearly not involved in such attacks, whole families and whole villages. These operations appear to target Rohingya collectively on the basis of their ethnicity and religion.

Evidence collected by Amnesty International also gives rise to a serious concern that human rights violations by Myanmar security forces described in this report are part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Rohingya population in northern Rakhine State and may therefore constitute crimes against humanity.

The report contains several demands of the Myanmar government:

  • Ordering members of all state security forces to halt all conduct which violates international law and refrain from any further violations;
  • Publicly condemning human rights violations against the Rohingya in Rakhine State;
  • Granting humanitarian organizations, as well as independent journalists and local and international human rights monitors, unimpeded access to northern Rakhine State; and
  • Initiating an independent, impartial and, effective investigation, with the assistance of the UN, into alleged violations of international law. Where there is sufficient, admissible evidence, all individuals suspected of involvement in crimes under international law – including those with command responsibility – must be…brought to justice in trials which meet international standards of fairness and without resorting to the death penalty.

And some of the government of Bangladesh as well:

  • Allow all persons fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar to enter Bangladesh without delay or restriction;
  • Strictly apply the principle of non-refoulement, by ensuring that no one fleeing Myanmar is transferred to any place, including Myanmar, where their lives or human rights are at risk; and
  • Provide for the immediate humanitarian needs of refugees and asylum-seekers, including food, water, shelter and health care, as well as education for children.

Amnesty International says the report is based on interviews with 35 victims of and eyewitnesses to human rights abuses from October to December, as well as 20 others, including human rights monitors, humanitarian workers, journalists and Rohingya leaders.

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