Escalating Violence and Brutality
Myanmar Human Rights Crisis
The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) has informed the Human Rights Council that the people of Myanmar are enduring continued suffering due to heinous crimes committed by the country’s military. Nicholas Koumjian, the head of the investigation team, revealed that the frequency and intensity of war crimes and crimes against humanity have surged in recent months.
Brazen Acts of Violence
Speaking at the forum in Geneva, Koumjian described increasingly audacious aerial bombings, indiscriminate shelling, and executions of civilians and captured combatants. He also highlighted intentional burnings of homes and villages. These brazen acts of violence have resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians, including children.
Ongoing Violations and Accountability Challenges
The list of violations includes torture, sexual violence, and arrests, with a glaring lack of due process and accountability for war crimes, especially within Myanmar’s military. UN Secretary-General António Guterres previously appealed to Myanmar’s military rulers to heed the people’s aspirations, release political prisoners, and restore democratic rule.
Evidence Gathering Amid Obstacles
Koumjian stressed that their repeated requests for information and access to Myanmar have been ignored by the military authorities. Despite these challenges, the investigation team has gathered an unprecedented amount of information with the help of witnesses and modern technology.
This evidence has been shared with international bodies, including the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC), and ongoing criminal proceedings in Argentina regarding crimes against the Rohingya.
The Plight of the Rohingya
The IIMM continues to actively investigate the violence that forced the large-scale displacement of the Rohingya from Myanmar in 2016 and 2017. Furthermore, Koumjian expressed horror at the numerous accounts of sexual crimes and the burning of Rohingya villages.
In addition, UN human rights chief Volker Türk marked the sixth anniversary of the military offensive against the Rohingya, calling for justice for the victims. Consequently, Bangladesh and other countries echoed this call, seeking a sustainable return for the Rohingya to their homeland.
Commitment to Pursuing Justice
Despite the challenges and ongoing suffering of the Myanmar people, Koumjian reaffirmed the Mechanism’s commitment to pursuing justice for the victims and holding perpetrators accountable. The UN-appointed investigators have been actively collecting evidence and preparing files for criminal prosecution since their operationalization in 2019.
The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, composed of impartial and experienced professionals, does not have its own police force, prosecutors, or judges. Instead, it relies on the information provided by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission in Myanmar to fulfill its mandate to document serious international crimes and violations of international law.