Crime & Justice

NGO files first intl. complaint against Myanmar junta in Turkey

Bangkok, March 30 (EFE).- The Myanmar Accountability Project organization filed a criminal complaint in Istanbul for torture against leaders of the military junta in power, the first case presented in a court outside the country since the Feb. 1, 2021 coup.

Project Director Chris Gunness told EFE Wednesday that the complaint was filed in the Turkish capital and represents the “first case initiated in a national court outside of Myanmar for crimes committed within the country since the February coup last year.”

His organization denounced “tortures that occurred in the infamous Ye Kyi Ain interrogation center, north of Yangon (the most populous city)” and called for Interpol to arrest the alleged torturers.

“Although we are denouncing a specific case of torture and we have submitted specific names of torturers to the Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office, the generals, such as Min Aung Hlain (junta leader) also have to be brought to justice (…) We hope these people are arrested and face justice,” Gunness said after filing the complaint.

The project’s lawyer Gulden Sonmez, said in a statement that “the military junta acted with a strict chain of command, committing crimes in a systematic, extended and planned manner.” He added that Turkey had signed the United Nations Convention against Torture and must initiate an investigation against the commanders of the military junta.

Gunness said the complaint has been filed in Istanbul because “Turkey has shown great sensitivity with the persecution of Muslims of the Rohingya ethnic group in Myanmar in 2017,” when the army began a military operation against this minority that forced more than 725,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.

According to the director, in Turkey there is “growing support … for legal action directed against the Myanmar generals for the atrocities they and their followers commit on a daily basis.”

For Gunness, in a context in which the UN Security Council is “paralyzed by the threat of Russian and Chinese vetoes” and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is “hopelessly divided,” “it is vital that UN members, like Turkey, support criminal liability in their courts.”

Various organizations have reported torture in Myanmar since the coup, including the UN Human Rights Council, which said in a report that at least 325 people, including 26 minors, had been tortured to death since the military uprising.

According to the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners, at least 13,024 people have been detained since the coup and 1,719 people have lost their lives due to the repression by security forces.

The army justifies the coup on alleged fraud during the November 2020 general elections, whose result was annulled and in which the party of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide victory, as it did in 2015, with the endorsement of international observers. EFE


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