Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar: concrete and overwhelming information points to international crimes

Human Rights – Violations in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states

Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar: concrete and overwhelming information points to international crimes
12 March 2018
GENEVA (12 March 2018) – Experts of the UN Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar called on Myanmar authorities Monday to stop dismissing reports that serious human rights violations have been committed in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states.

“The body of information and materials we are collecting is concrete and overwhelming,” the three experts of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar noted in their interim, oral report to the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

“It points at human rights violations of the most serious kind, in all likelihood amounting to crimes under international law.”

Marzuki Darusman, former Indonesian Attorney-General and chair of the Fact-Finding Mission, delivered the oral report. He was joined on the podium by fellow experts Radhika Coomaraswamy of Sri Lanka and Chris Sidoti of Australia.

The interim report was based on information gathered from a series of missions to Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand, where teams of investigators conducted over 600 in-depth interviews with victims and witnesses of reported human rights violations and abuses. The teams have also collected and analysed satellite imagery, photographs and video footage of events.

“The events we are examining in detail in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states are products of a longstanding, systemic pattern of human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar,” report said.
“Any denial of the seriousness of the situation in Rakhine, the reported human rights violations, and the suffering of the victims, is untenable,” the experts said. “We have hundreds of credible accounts of the most harrowing nature.”

The report listed eight major findings in relation to allegations in Rakhine State where so-called “clearance operations” of the Myanmar security forces, in response to ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) attacks, have driven nearly 700,000 Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh since August.

“Credible accounts are rife of the State’s various security forces having committed gross human rights violations in the course of these operations,” the experts said.

“These operations resulted in a very high number of casualties,” the report said. “People died from gunshot wounds, often due to indiscriminate shooting at fleeing villagers. Some were burned alive in their homes – often the elderly, disabled and young children. Others were hacked to death.”

Satellite imagery shows that at least 319 villages were partially or totally destroyed by fire after the “clearance operations” began on 25 August 2017…