Myanmar accused of committing crimes against humanity


Amnesty International says attack on Rohingya community constitutes ‘serious human rights violations’

An international rights group on Wednesday accused Myanmar’s authorities of committing crimes against humanity in the western Rakhine state.

“The attack on the Rohingya population has been both systematic and widespread, constituting serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity under international law,” said a report released by Amnesty International on Wednesday.

According to the United Nations, more than 582,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Maungdaw in northern part of Rakhine state to Bangladesh since late August when the military launched a crackdown.

The Amnesty’s report presents evidence that the Myanmar military has killed at least hundreds of Rohingya women, men, and children; raped and perpetrated other forms of sexual violence on Rohingya women and girls; and carried out organized, targeted burning of entire Rohingya villages.

The report is based on interviews with more than 120 fleeing Rohingya as well as medical professionals, aid workers, journalists and Bangladeshi authorities, and photos, video and satellite image.

It said Myanmar military carried out widespread and systematic human rights violations which may have amounted to crimes against humanity since October last year.

“The current campaign is an escalation, with the targeted burning of villages on a massive scale seemingly designed to push the Rohingya population in northern Rakhine State out of the country and make it incredibly difficult for them to return,” said the report.

Worst violations

The report said the investigations remain ongoing into the responsibility of specific units and individuals involved in crimes committed in the area. However, it said there is strong evidence that the army’s Western Command was responsible for some of the worst violations.

Despite the mounting international pressure, authorities have shown no signs of being willing or able to stop these violations and crimes, it added.

The rights group urged the UN, EU and ASEAN to impose arm embargo and targeted sanctions against the senior officials.

“It is time for the international community to move beyond public outcry and to take action.”

The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine’s Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.