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Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar

Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar Presented to the UN Human Rights Council Details Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law

Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers echoes the conclusions of the recently released UN International Fact-Finding Report on Myanmar, and calls on the United Nations to immediately establish a mechanism akin to the IIIM in place for Syria, so as to enable evidence of relevant crimes to be collated and documented, with a view to future prosecutions.

The Report of the detailed findings of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, was presented to the UN Human Rights Council during its 39th Session.

The Report, some 444 pages in length, concludes, and reaffirms the long understood position, that there are reasonable grounds to determine that “gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law have been committed in Myanmar since 2011, and that many of these violations undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law.”

The report goes to express its outrage in analysing the “gross human rights violations and abuses committed in Kacim, Rakhine, and Shan States”, referring to them as being “shocking for their horrifying nature and ubiquity”.

The Government of Myanmar and its associated Armed and Security Forces are responsible for the crimes we have seen unfold since 2011.

The Rohingya, already one of the most persecuted groups of peoples in the world, have not merely been forced to suffer discrimination, they have suffered persecution, been attacked en masse, murdered in their thousands in their villages, their homes burnt and destroyed, their wives, husbands, and even children, massacred and raped.

The international community cannot stand idly by and allow what is appropriately referred to as Genocide and other international crimes, to continue to be committed.

In this era of 24 hour news and media accessibility, the world has witnessed these atrocities occur, and yet, despite the oft (and now ultimately meaningless) repeated mantra of ‘never again’, no firm action has been taken by any state, or any collective.

Time and time again the international community sits back and allows these atrocities to happen, only reacting after the event, if at all.

Rwanda happened, Darfur happened, Srebrenica happened, Sri Lanka happened, Syria is happening, Yemen is happening, Myanmar is happening, and yet, all that we see from by far the majority of States, is rhetoric, statements of concern and calls for political discourse.

Despite crimes in Myanmar being committed over a protracted period of time we see no evidence of actual steps being taken by the international community to seek to address them, and thus its posturing insofar as accountability and justice is concerned, is largely meaningless as it is merely words.

The UN Fact Finding Report and those that contributed to it ought to be applauded as it is essential work that needs to be undertaken, but the international community and the wider members of the UN cannot simply discuss its conclusions and nod their heads in agreement, action must be taken. Effective leadership at the UN could not be more needed than it is at this moment.

The impotence of international justice allows impunity to prevail. The persecution of the Rohingya people will only stop once there are credible steps to hold the Myanmar military and civilian leadership accountable.

A mechanism akin to the IIIM for Syria must be developed as a matter of urgency, the UN Security Council must put its overt geo-political consideration to one side and now order a full referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Thereafter, it must be appropriately funded to enable it as an institution to fulfil that which it was mandated to do.

The ICC has been subject to criticism, and some of it justified, however, given that it is currently woefully under-resourced, in both finances and personnel, to a degree, it is prevented from fulfilling its mandate.

International Crimes are referred to as being the most serious of crimes for an important reason, they are not just crimes that affect an individual, they directly affect communities, groups, entire countries, and accordingly there simply has to be accountability for the victims.

It simply cannot be appropriate that thousands are murdered and raped, and that hundreds of thousands more are forced to leave their homes to attempt to enter another country so as to escape the horror of that which is occurring in their homelands.

Such crimes cannot go unpunished, and unfortunately, mere statements of condemnation will neither stop such offences from continuing, nor will they offer justice to victims.

The report issued today is essential work in seeking to bring about the end to impunity in Myanmar, however, it is only the start and must be built upon with urgency.

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