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Human Rights, International

Myanmar Rejects ICC Probe Over its Alleged Crimes in Rohingya

Myanmar struck back Friday after a surge of global legal pressure over its alleged crimes against the Rohingya, branding an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) “not in accordance with international law”.

On Thursday the ICC approved a full probe into Myanmar’s 2017 bloody military crackdown against the minority Muslim group.

The decision came after rights groups filed a separate lawsuit in Argentina —- in which former democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was personally named —- and a further submission of a genocide case at the UN’s top court.

Two years ago some 740,000 Rohingya fled over the border into sprawling camps in Bangladesh in violence UN investigators branded as genocide.

Myanmar has repeatedly defended the crackdown as necessary to stamp out militants and has long refused to recognise the authority of the ICC — a position it reiterated Friday.

“The investigation over Myanmar by the ICC is not in accordance with international law,” said government spokesman Zaw Htay at a press conference Friday.

Even though the country has not signed up to the court, the ICC ruled last year it has jurisdiction over crimes against the Rohingya because Bangladesh, where they are now refugees, is a member.

Zaw Htay repeated that Myanmar’s own committees would investigate any abuses and ensure accountability if needed.

“Myanmar and the government are neither in denial nor closing our eyes,” he said.

Critics deride the domestic panels of whitewashing atrocities.

– Myanmar accused of genocide –

The ICC decision came after West African nation The Gambia on Monday launched a separate case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s top court, also based in The Hague.

The Gambia, acting on behalf of the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), accuses Myanmar of genocide. The first hearings are scheduled for December.

The ICJ normally deals with more legalistic disputes between states but also rules on alleged breaches of UN conventions.

Myanmar, which has signed the Genocide Convention, would respond “in accordance with international legal means,” said Zaw Htay.

In the case filed Wednesday in Argentina, Suu Kyi was among top Myanmar officials named for crimes against the Rohingya, the first time the Nobel Laureate has been legally targeted over the crisis.

Human rights groups submitted the lawsuit under “universal jurisdiction”, a legal principle that some crimes are so horrific, they can be tried anywhere.

The lawsuit demands top leaders — including army chief Min Aung Hlaing and civilian leader Suu Kyi — face justice over the “existential threat” faced by the Rohingya.

Argentine courts have taken up other such cases in relation to ex-dictator Francisco Franco’s rule in Spain and the Falun Gong movement in China.

Myanmar’s government spokesman offered no comment on the lawsuit.            ( Agencies)

International

UN mission accuses accountability for Myanmar ‘genocide’

ANI

A special U.N. fact-finding mission has urged that Myanmar be held responsible in international legal forums for alleged genocide against its Muslim Rohingya minority.

The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar said in a report Monday wrapping up two years of documentation of human rights violations by security forces that counterinsurgency operations against Rohngya in 2017 included “genocidal acts.”

It said the operations killed thousands of people and caused more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.

The mission said the threat of genocide continues for an estimated 600,000 Rohingya still inside Myanmar living in “deplorable” conditions and facing persecution. The situation makes the repatriation of Rohingya refugees impossible, it said.

“The threat of genocide continues for the remaining Rohingya,” mission head Marzuki Darusman said in a statement.

The report summarized and updated six others previously issued by the mission that detailed accounts of arbitrary detention, torture and inhuman treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, forced displacement and unlawful destruction of property.

It is to be presented Tuesday in Geneva to the Human Rights Council, which established the mission in 2017.

Muslim Rohingya face heavy discrimination in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar, where they are regarded as having illegally immigrated from Bangladesh, even though many families have lived in Myanmar for generations. Most are denied citizenship and basic civil rights.

The homes of many were destroyed during the counterinsurgency operation and there is little sign that refugees will not face the same discrimination if they return.

A plan to repatriate an initial group last month collapsed when no one wanted to be taken back.

The U.N. mission has focused on the Rohingya in Rakhine state but also covered actions by Myanmar’s military — known as the Tatmadaw — toward other minorities in Rakhine, Chin, Shan, Kachin and Karen states.

It said those groups also experienced “marginalization, discrimination and brutality” at the military’s hands.

“Shedding light on the grave human rights violations that occurred and still are occurring in Myanmar is very important but not sufficient,” said Radhika Coomaraswamy, a Sri Lankan lawyer who was one of the mission’s three international experts.

“Accountability is important not only to victims but also to uphold the rule of law. It is also important to prevent repetition of the Tatmadaw’s past conduct and prevent future violations,” he said in a statement.

According to the mission, it has a confidential list of more than 100 people suspected of involvement in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, in addition to six generals whom it already named a year ago.

Citing the problem of military impunity under Myanmar’s justice system, the report called for accountability to be upheld by an international judicial process.

This could include having the U.N. Security Council refer the matter to the International Criminal Court, establishing an ad-hoc tribunal on Myanmar, such as was held for crimes in the former Yugoslavia or Rwanda, or invoking the 1948 Genocide Convention — which Myanmar has ratified — to ask the International Court of Justice to rule on compensation and reparations for the Rohingya.

With its work concluded, the mission has handed over the information it collected to another specially established U.N. group, the new Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar.

The new group’s mandate is to “build on this evidence and conduct its own investigations to support prosecutions in national, regional and international courts of perpetrators of atrocities in Myanmar.”

Myanmar’s government and military have consistently denied violating human rights and said its operations in Rakhine were justified in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents.

International

Bangladesh returns ‘lost’ Myanmar soldier

COX’S BAZAR: Bangladesh forces handed back on Sunday (Mar 3) a Myanmar soldier more than two months after he strayed across the border into a jungle in the Muslim-majority nation, a senior official said.

Aung Bo Bo Thein, 30, was detained by Bangladeshi security forces on Jan 24 near the southern town of Naikhongchhari, Brigadier General Sajedur Rahman told AFP.Advertisement

“He crossed the border and was found in a jungle. Today we have handed him over to Myanmar border police through a flag meeting,” said Rahman, border guard regional commander.

Ties between Bangladesh and Myanmar have soured since about 740,000 Rohingya Muslims fled the Buddhist-majority country in 2017 following a military clampdown in restive Rakhine state.

Dhaka had already been hosting another 300,000 Rohingya who took refuge in squalid camps in Bangladesh’s southeastern Cox’s Bazar district after previous bouts of violence.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement in November 2017 for the repatriation of the Rohingya, but the persecuted Muslim minority has refused to go back unless they are granted citizenship and other rights.Advertisement

This week Bangladesh told the UN Security Council that it will no longer be able to take in refugees from Myanmar.

Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told a Council meeting that the crisis over the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya sheltering in his country had gone from “bad to worse” and urged the council to take “decisive” action.

Rahman said Rohingya arrivals from Myanmar have almost stopped, with none arriving in the past few weeks.

Bangladesh in recent months has stepped up security near the border to curb smuggling of Yaba – a popular methamphetamine pill – across the border from Myanmar, he said.

Myanmar’s Ambassador Hau Do Suan insisted his government was taking steps and appealed for patience.
Source: AFP/zl
Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/bangladesh-returns–lost–myanmar-soldier-11307216

International

Myanmar army should be removed from politics: UN probe

YANGON: Myanmar’s powerful army should be removed from politics, UN investigators said Tuesday (Sep 18) in the final version of a damning report reiterating calls for top generals to be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

A brutal military crackdown last year forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee over the border to Bangladesh. Demands have mounted for those who waged the campaign to face justice.

The UN’s 444-page probe is the most meticulous breakdown of the violence to date. It says the military’s top leadership should be overhauled and have no further influence over the country’s governance.

Myanmar’s military dominates the Buddhist-majority nation, holding a quarter of seats in parliament and controlling three ministries, making their grip on power firm despite political reforms which began in 2011.

But the report said the country’s civilian leadership “should further pursue the removal of the Tatmadaw from Myanmar’s political life”, referring to the nation’s armed forces.

The UN’s analysis, based on 18 months’ work and more than 850 in-depth interviews, urges the international community to investigate the military top brass for genocide, including commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.

Myanmar’s army has denied nearly all wrongdoing, insisting its campaign was justified to root out Rohingya insurgents who staged deadly raids on border posts in August 2017.

But the UN team said the military’s tactics had been “consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats”.

The report says an estimated 10,000 people were killed in the crackdown and that was likely a conservative figure.

Investigators said the Tatmadaw should be restructured and the process should begin by replacing the current leadership.

Myanmar only recently emerged from almost a half century of military junta rule and Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically-elected government remains in a delicate power balance with the generals.

Their presence in parliament gives them an effective veto on constitutional changes, making any transition to full civilian control extremely difficult.

ARMY “ATROCITIES”

Three key ministries – home affairs, border and defence – are also in their hands, giving them carte blanche to conduct security operations with little oversight.

“It is impossible to remove the army out of political life without changing the constitution, and the military have a veto over constitutional changes,” Mark Farmaner, from Burma Campaign UK, told AFP.

The UN team said there were reasonable grounds to believe that the atrocities – including systematic murder, rape, torture and arson – were committed with the intention of destroying the stateless Rohingya, warranting the charges of genocide.

The mission, created by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017, did not focus its sights entirely on the army.

It directed specific criticism at Suu Kyi, whose global reputation has been shattered by her failure to speak up for the Rohingya against the military.

While acknowledging that the civilian authorities have little influence over military actions, the report said that their “acts and omissions” had “contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes”.

Pointing to “deeply entrenched” impunity in Myanmar, the investigators said the only chance to obtain accountability was through the international justice system.

They also pointed to failings of the UN’s office within Myanmar, alleging that “quiet diplomacy” was prioritised and that those who tried to push the UN’s Human Rights Up Front approach were “ignored, criticised, sidelined or blocked in these efforts”.

The independent UN team will present its findings to member states of the Human Rights Council in Geneva later on Tuesday, after which Myanmar will have a chance to respond to the allegations.

It also repeated suggestions that crimes against the Rohingya be referred to the International Criminal Court, which concluded in August that it had jurisdiction to investigate even though Myanmar is not a member of the treaty underpinning the tribunal.

Myanmar has dismissed the tribunal’s authority and analysts have pointed to the court’s lack of enforcement powers.

The investigators also recommended an arms embargo and “targeted individual sanctions against those who appear to be most responsible”

.Source: AFP/a