UN: growing evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity in Myanmar

Geneva, Sep 12 (EFE).- There is “increasing evidence” of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Myanmar since the coup last year, including murders, torture, forced deportations and attacks on civilians, the head of the United Nations investigative mission in the country said Monday.

Nicholas Koumjian, head of the Independent Investigation Mechanism for Myanmar, said this during his fourth annual report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, adding that “the Myanmar people continue to suffer from a lack of accountability.”

Koumjian said evidence continues to be collected so that the crimes of the Myanmar military authorities can be tried in instances such as the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice, both in The Hague.

“We have collected and processed more than 3 million pieces of information from 200 sources that include interviews, documentation, videos, photographs, geospatial images and material from social networks, twice as many as last year,” said the American expert.

Koumjian spoke of the crucial importance of the case already initiated in the justice court. This year it dismissed the objections of the Myanmar military junta and continued a process that will determine whether a genocide was committed against the Rohingya people, since the persecution against the Muslim minority began in 2016.

“We are committed to providing the evidence of what happened in this case,” said the head of the investigative mechanism, adding that his mission must redouble efforts in this field, since with the start of the procedures in the justice court, the time to obtain the testing is limited.

He said his team prioritizes receiving evidence on crimes against children and sexual and gender-based violence, since “women and children are at special risk in conflicts” but at the same time many of the abuses they suffer are not are often reported or investigated.

Koumjian spoke of reports that point to torture and arbitrary detentions against minors, sometimes in retaliation against their parents.

The expert also spoke of the execution in July of four Myanmar pro-democracy activists, which ended a 30-year moratorium on the use of capital punishment in the country. He said the opacity with which the process was carried out may be an example of the reported crimes against humanity.

“Imposing the death penalty following procedures that do not meet the basic requirements of a fair trial may be a crime against humanity, and there are clear indications that the July executions did not follow due process, as there was a lack of transparency,” Koumjian said.

The head of the investigation mechanism said the military junta continues to ignore his frequent requests to visit the country to examine possible crimes against international law.

“Despite this, there is remarkable progress, and valuable evidence has been shared by many brave people, NGOs and others,” Koumjian said, calling for efforts to ensure the protection of these sources at a time of growing concern for their safety.

During the delegations’ turn to speak, the European Union said it denounced the “widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population” in Myanmar, and said it could be considered a crime against humanity in the face of international court proceedings.

Countries such as Switzerland said they lamented the junta’s blockade of the entry of humanitarian aid into the country, while France demanded “total and unhindered access” to the more than 950,000 people who have left their homes due to the escalation of conflicts.

Other countries spoke of the continued exodus of the Rohingya, which is now five years old, with no sign that the millions of people who left the country due to the attacks and are mostly refugees in Bangladesh will be able to return, given the deteriorating insecurity situation in Myanmar. EFE


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