UN wants genocide charges for Myanmar’s generals

Myanmar’s generals should be financially isolated and face trial for war crimes and genocide against the Rohingya in Rakhine State, according to United Nations investigators.

A UN fact-finding mission called for governments to cut all financial and other support for Myanmar’s military.

Marzuki Darusman, who headed the mission which just visited neighbouring countries, said drastic measures were needed as Nay Pyi Taw had done little to address the Rohingya crisis.

Myanmar has persistently denied allegations of rights abuses, saying its military has not targeted civilians.

“There has been no movement toward a resolution of the crisis,” Darusman said. “The situation is at a total standstill.”

Darusman said the military crackdowns against the Rohingya in 2012 and 2017 were not isolated incidents but were “fuelled by the absence of a political and legal system that is willing to accommodate diversity”.

In a report last September, the UN mission said there were reasonable grounds to believe the Rakhine atrocities amounted to genocide.

Rakhine State remains grindingly poor, despite its plentiful natural resources.

The international criminal court is conducting its own Rakhine investigation and discussions are also underway about the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

“Both military and civilian sides of Myanmar’s government persistently deny the facts and disclaim any responsibility for crimes under international law,” the mission reported yesterday (Tuesday).

“Following this violence, the Myanmar authorities have levelled empty Rohingya villages with bulldozers, effectively destroying criminal evidence, while making no substantive progress in resolving the ethnic animosities that have helped fuel the crisis,” the investigators told the media.

The mission was not granted access to Myanmar and instead visited Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and met Chin, Kachin, Shan and Rakhine refugees.

Many western countries have imposed arms embargoes and suspended training programmes with Myanmar. The US has reintroduced sanctions on the Burmese security forces and blocked military officers involved in the Rakhine violence from receiving US assistance. The UK has also its financial support.

“Meeting with these different ethnic communities only underscored our findings that the Tatmadaw [military] has over time committed similar atrocities against many of the ethnic groups living within the borders of Myanmar,” investigator Radhika Coomaraswamy said


Both Buddhists and Muslims in resource-rich Rakhine State are grindingly poor. Picture credit: Asean Economist