The Myanmar junta is responsible for crimes against humanity, murder, torture, and forced displacement of civilians and political leaders, according to a report by human rights agencies released Thursday.
The report, co-authored by Fortify Rights and the Schell Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School, is focused primarily on the six months following Myanmar’s 2021 military coup. The report describes the imprisonment of over 9000 individuals who opposed the coup, the “widespread and systematic torture of civilians,” and the deportation and forcible transfer of “well over 100,000 people.”
Entitled “Nowhere is Safe,” the report claims there is “sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation” for at least 61 high-level Myanmar army and police officials. At the top of the list is Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar military. The report charges military officials with violating Article 7 of the Rome Statute. Under Article 7, a crime against humanity must be committed “as part of a widespread or systematic attack.” The report concludes that the crimes and Myanmar are both widespread and systematic.
The systematic nature of the crimes are most problematic for the military, and human rights, as the report describes two instances where the military “warned protesters that they might ‘suffer loss of life’ or ‘get shot in the head and back'” prior to major incidents on February 22, 2021 and March 27, 2021. The report detailed confidential internal memos instructing police to “arrest protest leaders and conduct night raids” as well as instructing police officers to “make a list of the leading NLD members and all other leaders who led the protests . . . and submit the list to prepare to make arrests, one after the other, every night.” The NLD, or National League for Democracy, was Myanmar’s duly elected governing party prior to the military coup.
In addition to documenting the systematic acts by the Junta, the report describes their widespread nature. The response to protests also includes “arbitrary killing of the detained, or of bystanders including children in private homes.” While the report confirms over 2,000 murders by the Junta, it sadly notes that the report is “not an exhaustive account of killings.”
The report concluded with a recommendation for the Prosecutor of the ICC to launch an investigation into the alleged international crimes in Myanmar, as well as a recommendation for UN members to recognize the National Unity Government as the legitimate government of Myanamar.