UN officials looking into abuse against Rohingyas says the level of brutality carried out by Myanmar’s military is “hard to fathom”.
In a 444-page report released on Tuesday, investigators describe a deliberate and genocidal campaign of looting, rape and killing against them, driven by what they describe as the “extreme brutality” of the armed forces.
Condemning the “impunity” and extreme power of the military, it goes on to urge that the army is removed from politics, naming six senior figures who should stand for prosecution in an international court for genocide.
The document was released more than a year after Myanmar began its bloody persecution of Muslim-majority Rohingya refugees, forcing 700,000 people to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh where they remain in camps today.
Marzuki Darusman, the chairman of the independent fact-finding mission on Myanmar, said the report had drawn conclusions based on facts he “never expected would be as grave as they are”.
In a speech on Tuesday, he stressed that the “acts of the Tatmadaw [military] and other security forces fall within four of the five categories of genocidal acts” – describing crimes “consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats”.
#FFMMyanmar: “We name 6 individuals with control over operations during which these acts have been committed. The list is headed by #Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief, Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing @SGMinAungHlaing. He & the others must be investigated & prosecuted”.
— HRC SECRETARIAT (@UN_HRC) 18 September 2018
They include an account of an army attack on the village of Tula Toli, or Min Gyi, in which soldiers shot fleeing villagers trapped by a riverbank, then rounded up those who had escaped according to their sex.
Men were killed, according to the account, and children shot or thrown into the river or a fire.
Women and girls were taken into houses in groups, where they were “beaten and viciously raped”, often stabbed and killed with their small children, then locked in their houses which were set on fire using petrol brought by army helicopter.
The UN estimates around 750 people were killed in the attack, in what they call a “well-planned, deliberate attack on a specific civilian population”.
Mr Darusman said it was “beyond doubt” that rape was used as a tactic of war by the Burmese military.
Some 80% of rape survivors interviewed by the mission said they had been gang raped, and many were physically and mentally tortured while they were raped.
The findings were drawn from interviews with hundreds of refugees who had fled Myanmar.
The military holds one quarter of the parliamentary seats in Myanmar and controls three ministries – circumstances that prompted Mr Darusman to describe recent years of reform as the “stillbirth” of democracy in Myanmar.