Security forces likely committed war crimes in Rohingya

NAYPYITAW (AP) — An independent commission established by Myanmar’s government has concluded there are reasons to believe that security forces committed war crimes in counter-insurgency operations that led more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

However, the commission, headed by a Philippine diplomat, said in a report given on Monday to Myanmar President Win Myint that there is no evidence supporting charges that genocide was planned or carried out against the Rohingya.

The Independent Commission of Enquiry announced its findings in a statement posted on its Facebook page and the full report does not appear to have been publicly released.

Nevertheless, it went further than any public statements issued by Myanmar’s government in suggesting government forces were guilty of major abuses.

“Although these serious crimes and violations were committed by multiple actors, there are reasonable grounds to believe that members of Myanmar’s security forces were involved in war crimes, serious human rights violations, and violations of domestic law in 2017,” according to the report.

Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi greets Philippine Diplomat Rosario Manalo, a member of the Independent Commission of Enquiry for Rakhine State in Naypyitaw. PHOTO: AP

“The killing of innocent villagers and destruction of their homes were committed by some members of the Myanmar’s security forces through disproportionate use of force during the internal armed conflict,” it said.

The statement came ahead of a decision by the United Nations (UN) top court yesterday on a request that Myanmar be ordered to halt what has been cast as a genocidal campaign against the Rohingya.

Gambia brought legal action last year to the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands, alleging on behalf of the 57-country Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)that genocide occurred and continues.

Myanmar’s top leader and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi strongly denied wrongdoing by government forces at the initial hearing on the case in December 2019. The long-simmering crisis exploded in August 2017 when Myanmar’s military launched what it called a clearance campaign in northern Rakhine State in response to an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group.

The campaign forced Rohingyans to flee to Bangladesh and led to accusations that security forces committed killings and burned thousands of homes.