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UN Investigators Deliver Gravest Accusation Possible

Panel says Myanmar's military leaders should be prosecuted for genocide
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2018 7:23 AM CDT
Aung San Suu Kyi, right, and Myanmar's Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the military commander-in-chief, shake hands during a Dec. 2, 2015, meeting in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.   (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo)
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(Newser) – The word genocide has been used by critics to describe the Myanmar military's brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, but a team of UN investigators has just brought the allegation to a whole new level. The three-member team says the actions of the nation's army meet the strict legal definition of the term and recommends that military leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and five generals be prosecuted, reports the AP. The panel cites a "conservative" estimate of 10,000 dead, the forced evacuation of 700,000 people, gang rapes, the murder of children in front of their parents, the torching of villages, and enslavement, reports the New York Times. The investigators, working under a mandate from the Human Rights Council, also criticize Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi—a Nobel Peace Prize laureate—for doing nothing to stop the genocide.

“The crimes in Rakhine State, and the manner in which they were perpetrated, are similar in nature, gravity and scope to those that have allowed genocidal intent to be established in other contexts,” declares the 20-page report, which will be presented in Geneva next month. Another 400 pages that include eyewitness accounts are annexed. Myanmar has maintained that its crackdown was a necessary response to rebellion, but investigators say the military action was "grossly disproportionate to actual security threats," per Reuters. Most of the 700,000 Rohingyas who fled Myanmar remain in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh. As for Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders, they "contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes” by failing to use their positions to stop them, say the investigators. (Rape survivors share their stories.)

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