Crimes against humanity are being systematically committed in Myanmar, says report

The report by the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar has found that rape and other sexual-forms of violence, and crimes against children have been perpetrated by members of the security forces and armed groups

August 16, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Myanmar report
(Photo: UN)

A recent report by the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) found that “crimes against humanity are systematically being committed” in the country, with the ongoing conflict severely impacting women and children. The IIMM was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018 to “collect, consolidate, preserve and analyze evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011,” as well as prepare files for legal proceedings.

In its annual report, the IIMM said that “rape and other sexual-forms of violence, and crimes against children have been perpetrated by members of the security forces and armed groups.”

In the past three years, the IIMM has been able to collect three million pieces of information in the form of statements, interviews, visuals, imagery and social media material from almost 200 sources to establish evidence of atrocities. 

The report exposes how the junta forces were explicitly involved in “crimes against humanity of murder; torture; deportation and forcible transfer; rape and other forms of sexual violence; persecution; and imprisonment have been committed by the junta forces.” The report indicated that even minors were tortured, conscripted and arbitrarily detained, including as proxies for their parents.

As per Nicholas Koumjian, head of the IIMM, “crimes against women and children are amongst the gravest international crimes, but they are also historically underreported and under-investigated.”

On July 25, the Myanmar military executed four individuals sentenced to death by military courts. The report suggested that none of their trial proceedings were made public and the judgments were also not publicly accessible.

The report also notes that this August marks five years since the 2017 military operation in the Rakhine State, which led to the forced exodus of nearly one million Rohingyas. “Tragically, for the Rohingya and all the peoples of Myanmar, progress on ending impunity and ensuring accountability for crimes committed remains limited,” the report said.

According to activist and co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition, Ro Nay San, the marginalized Rohingyas are living in an open-air prison: “Almost 130,000 Rohingya are still in the so-called Internally Displaced Camp, the same as the concentration camp,” San told Peoples Dispatch.

The situation in Myanmar has worsened since the military coup of February 2021. At least 15,064 people have so far been arrested by the junta after the coup last year, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

In March, Fortify Rights, in a report, claimed that Myanmar’s military led by General Min Aung Hlaing deliberately killed civilians who challenged its authority. It also said that General Hlaing created a special command which deployed snipers to kill unarmed protesters. 

The IIMM report has called for access to collect information and documentation in order to establish accountability and help bring justice to the people of Myanmar.