Burmese military leaders should face Rohingya genocide prosecution, says UN

  • Video report by ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward

Burmese military leaders should be prosecuted for genocide against Rohingya Muslims, investigators working for the UN’s top human rights body say.

The call, accompanying a first report by the investigators, amounts to some of the strongest language yet from UN officials who have denounced alleged human rights violations in Burma since a bloody crackdown began last August.

Credit: AP

The three-member “fact-finding mission” working under a mandate from the UN-backed Human Rights Council meticulously assembled hundreds of accounts by expatriate Rohingya, satellite footage and other information to assemble the report released on Monday.

The Human Rights Council created the mission six months before a rebel attack on security posts set off the crackdown that drove hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh.

It is estimated that more than 700,000 have fled.

The U.N compiled accounts of crimes including gang rape, the torching of hundreds of villages, enslavement, and killings of children — some before their eyes of their own parents.

Rohingya refugees cry as they pray during a gathering to commemorate the first anniversary of Myanmar army's crackdown. Credit: AP

However, the team was not granted access to Myanmar and has decried a lack of cooperation or even response from the government, which received an early copy of the report.

Citing a “conservative” estimate from aid group Reporters Without Borders that some 10,000 people were killed in the violence, but outside investigators have had no access to the affected regions — making a precise accounting elusive, if not impossible.

It is estimated that more than 700,000 have fled Myanmar amid the violence. Credit: AP

Above all, the investigators said the situation in Myanmar should be referred to the International Criminal Court, and if not, to a special tribunal.

Last week, Myanmar’s government rejected any cooperation with the ICC, to which it is not a party.

China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council with veto power over whether the issue will be brought before the ICC, has been reticent about condemning Myanmar’s government during the crisis.