On August 27, 2018, the United Nation’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released its report detailing the human rights abuses and war crimes of Myanmar government and military officials against the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority ethnic group who resided for centuries in the Buddhist-majority country of Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Drawing from over nearly 900 interviews with victims, eyewitnesses, and experts, obtained satellite imagery and photographs, as well as open source material, the Mission highlights a pattern of systemic persecution of the Rohingya over decades, as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated principally by the Tamadaw (military) forces. The report makes clear that the violence and persecution against the Rohingya did not begin with the 2012 “clearance operations” orchestrated by the Tamadaw. Rather, the lack of legal status afforded to the Rohingya, coupled with increasingly exclusionary citizenship and political rights have rendered members of the ethnic group “defacto stateless.”
Against the backdrop of the gradual systematic disenfranchisement of the Rohingya, the Mission also alleges that the Myanmar military perpetrated widespread and organized crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Rohingya people. In particular, the report notes:
Myanmar security forces were at least complicit. They often failed to intervene to stop the violence, or actively participated. They injured, killed and tortured Rohingya and destroyed their properties. Witnesses from Sittwe and Kyaukpyu described security forces preventing Rohingya or Kaman from extinguishing houses set on fire by Rakhine, including by gunfire. Witnesses from Maungdaw described security forces shooting indiscriminately at Rohingya and conducting mass arbitrary arrests, including of Rohingya NGO workers. Large groups were transferred to Buthidaung prison, where they faced inhuman conditions and torture. Prisoners were beaten by prison guards and fellow Rakhine detainees, some fatally.
The Mission culminates its report by calling for the “investigation and prosecution” of senior Tatmadaw officials to “determine their liability for genocide in relation to the situation in Rakhine State.” The report also notes that sufficient basis exists to find that the Tatmandaw committed war crimes and crime against humanity against the Royingya. Six senior officials are named as bearing principal responsibility for directing the operations:
- Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief, Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing;
- Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Vice Senior-General Soe Win;
- Commander, Bureau of Special Operations-3, Lieutenant-General Aung Kyaw Zaw;
- Commander, Western Regional Military Command, Major-General Maung Maung Soe;
- Commander, 33rd Light Infantry Division, Brigadier-General Aung Aung; and
- Commander, 99th Light Infantry Division, Brigadier-General Than Oo.
In Myanmar state media, a spokesperson for the government, U Zaw Htay, denounced the U.N. mission for making “false allegations” of genocidal intent in its report.
You may access the full U.N. report below.