A United Nations committee has recommended that top Myanmar military officials “be investigated and prosecuted” for genocide and human rights atrocities against the Rohingya and other minority groups in Myanmar.
The report, issued by the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar, is the harshest indictment yet of Myanmar’s military action against the Rohingya people. It comes a year after authorities escalated their violent crackdown against the Rohingya, a long-persecuted Muslim minority group in the South-east Asian country.
The report, based on hundreds of interviews, says the army's tactics are "grossly disproportionate to actual security threats". The report says the crimes documented are "shocking for the level of denial, normalcy and impunity that is attached to them".
"Military necessity would never justify killing indiscriminately, gang raping women, assaulting children, and burning entire villages," the report added.
The report names six senior military figures it believes should go on trial and sharply criticises Myanmar's de facto leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, for failing to intervene to stop the campaign against the Rohingya people.
The UN committee has also called for the case to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
However, Myanmar rejected the report. The government has consistently said its operations targeted militant or insurgent threats.
But the UN panel has listed the crimes committed against Rohingya in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine including murder, imprisonment, torture, rape, sexual slavery, persecution and enslavement that "undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law".
In Rakhine state, the report also found elements of extermination and deportation "similar in nature, gravity and scope to those that have allowed genocide intent to be established in other contexts".
More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh in the wake of the violence that spiked last August, following an attack by a small armed Rohingya faction on Myanmar security forces. This had previously been described by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Myanmar authorities however used the attack to justify operations to root out terrorists, but this latest UN report dismisses that reasoning outright.