A report by the United Nations accuses Myanmar’s military of genocide against the Rohingya people in Rakhine State and war crimes against other minorities in the country.
The report stated the actions of Myanmar’s armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, "undoubtedly amounted to the gravest crimes under international law" in Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan states. U.N. investigators were denied access to the country, but interviewed almost 900 witnesses who had fled, The Guardian reports. Investigators determined the military was "killing indiscriminately, gang-raping women, assaulting children and burning entire villages."
The report outlines the nature of the human rights violations it says the military has committed:
For Kachin and Shan States, these include crimes against humanity of murder; imprisonment; enforced disappearance; torture; rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence; persecution; and enslavement. In Rakhine State, these and additional crimes against humanity were committed. The elements of extermination and deportation are also present, and the systematic oppression and discrimination not only supports a finding of persecution, but may also amount to the crime of apartheid. For both northern Myanmar and Rakhine State, the acts were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack on a civilian population.
The report highlighted several individuals deserving of investigation and prosecution for crimes against humanity, including the commander-in-chief of the Tatmadaw, Min Aung Hlaing. Soon after the report came out, Facebook removed pages affiliated with Myanmar’s military, which have been used to spread anti-Rohingya messages.
Myanmar’s government has denied genocide is taking place and argued the Rohingya provoked a military response by attacking soldiers. Last August, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) – an armed insurgent group in Rakhine State – attacked police posts, killing members of the security forces.
"As we did not accept the idea of a fact-finding mission from the beginning, we reject their report," said U Hau Do Suan, Myanmar’s permanent representative to the U.N., in response to the report. "The human rights abuses are one-sided accusations against us. This is designed at putting pressure on us by the international organizations. Their report is based on one-sided information from the people who fled to Bangladesh and the opposition groups."
On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that the United States will hold responsible those who are carrying out "abhorrent ethnic cleansing of ethnic Rohingya." Earlier this month, the U.S. sanctioned several Myanmar military officials and two army units for their role in committing human rights abuses against the Rohingya.
Approximately 25,000 people are estimated to have been killed since the government’s campaign against the Rohingya began, and about 700,000 have fled to Bangladesh.