UNITED NATIONS, New York, Aug 28 (NNN-Bernama) � United Nations (UN)-appointed investigators probing the Myanmar refugee exodus suggested Monday the country’s top military commanders face an enquiry and prosecution for committing the gravest of crimes against civilians, including genocide, under international law.

The call comes on the heels of a report by the world body on the circumstances leading to the mass exodus of over 700,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar, starting in mid-August last year. Previously, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had described the exodus of refugees from Myanmar as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.

The report lists crimes committed such as murder, rape, torture, sexual slavery, persecution and enslavement. This was stated by an Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (IIFFMM).

The team of investigators, comprising Marzuki Darusman, Radhika Coomaraswamy and Christopher Sidoti highlighted to the media the horrific and organised nature of the brutality met out (to) civilians in Myanmar’s Rakhine state since 2011, as well as Kachin and Shan states.

The fact-finding mission has concluded, on reasonable grounds, that the patterns of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law that it is found, amount to the gravest crime under international law, said Sidoti, pointing out that these crimes were principally committed by the military, the Tatmadaw, a reference to Myanmar’s armed forces.

Included in the list of alleged perpetrators are the Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing and five other commanders.

The mission has concluded that criminal investigation and prosecution are warranted, focusing on the top Tatmadaw generals, in relation to the three categories of crimes under international law; genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In Myanmar, there is a very clear chain of command, said Sidoti, adding there was no doubt in our minds, whatsoever that what we saw happen in Rakhine as a whole, would not have happened without it, firstly, being within the knowledge of the senior military leadership and secondly, under their effective control.

And, it’s because of the clarity of the chain of command in Myanmar that we have recommended the investigation and prosecution of these six.

Of the more than 800 testimonies gathered, one in particular describes in graphic detail, the extent of the abuse, citing the case of a female survivor who fled to neighbouring Bangladesh. I was lucky, I was only raped by three men, she was quoted as saying.

The sheer brutality of the horrific violations led Coomaraswamy � she is a former UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict � to remark that the scale, brutality and systematic nature of rape and violence indicated a part of a deliberate strategy to intimidate, terrorise or punish the civilian population.

They’re used as a tactic of war that we found, including rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, forced nudity and mutilations.

Before the fact-finding mission delivers its findings to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council next month, chairman Marzuki Darusman highlighted that one of the panel’s key recommendations called for the attention of the UN Security Council:

The mission called for the situation in Myanmar to be referred to the International Criminal Court and that, of course, is the task of the Security Council to undertake. And so, the message to the Security Council is, of course, ‘Refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.– NNN-BERNAMA

Source: NAM News Network