New evidence confirms mass atrocities . . .
A video emerged on Tuesday of two soldiers who deserted from the Myanmar Army testifying that they were ordered to kill and rape Muslim Rohingya people, who are seen as illegal ‘Bengali’ foreigners by Myanmar’s Burmese majority. They also provided the names and ranks of 19 direct perpetrators, including six senior commanders. Although there are numerous reports of atrocities committed against the Rohingya, this is the first time that perpetrators themselves have publicly confessed to their involvement in army-directed crimes. Fortify Rights, the human rights group that first shared the video, said that it could provide important evidence for the ongoing investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into Myanmar’s violence against the Rohingya.
Serious implications for ICC case . . .
The confessions suggest that the Myanmar government’s campaign is a widespread and co-ordinated effort: both men reported receiving nearly identical orders despite being in different units stationed at different townships. Although the evidence has not yet been independently corroborated, the details from the video conform with observations on the ground. While it is still unclear if the two soldiers will appear as witnesses or face trial at the ICC, the information that has emerged has dealt another blow to the international credibility of Myanmar’s government led by de facto leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi, who has repeatedly denied that the state perpetrated human rights abuses.
Canada to take further action . . .
Canada and the Netherlands announced last week that they would provide the legal support to ensure that Myanmar is held accountable for genocide. Bob Rae, Canada’s newly-appointed ambassador to the United Nations and Special Envoy to Myanmar, said that the confessions will help the ICC’s proceedings. However, the process is likely to continue for many years. With such glaring evidence, it remains to be seen if Myanmar will have to answer to the international community through the ICC. However, to the majority ethnic Burmese people, Aung Sang Suu Kyi is still seen as a defender of Burmese nationalism, and her overwhelming popularity may not suffer from this incident.