The Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC) has refuted the findings of Myanmar’s Independent Commission of Enquiry that there is “no” or “insufficient” evidence to establish the genocidal intent behind Myanmar’s destruction of the Rohingya community in Myanmar and the mass deportations of estimated 800,000 Rohingyas into Bangladesh in 2016 and 2017.
Nay San Lwin, the cofounder and coordinator of the Coalition on Tuesday said this is yet another Myanmar commission set up to deny and dismiss credible findings of the decades-long and ongoing genocide of our Rohingya people.
“The Commission has not established facts, but merely handed over a thick pack of lies, distortions and denial for Myanmar’s use at various international tribunals,” said Lwin in a statement issued from London and Frankfurt on Tuesday.
Despite being billed as “independent” (from the political interference) by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the report echoes the line of defence which was offered by Suu Kyi, in her capacity as Myanmar Agent, and her legal counsels, in The Gambia vs Myanmar case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 11 and 12 December last year.
Both the Commission’s report and legal counsels argued that Myanmar security forces may have used “disproportionate” force, committed war crimes and other human rights violations, but that there were no acts of genocide.
These findings play into the hands of the perpetrators who are fully aware that prosecuting them for war crimes and crimes against humanity will not fall within the jurisdiction of the court, according to FRC.
For ICJ, the United Nations’ highest court, handles only legal disputes among UN member states and does not prosecute individual state leaders and officials, said FRC.
The report’s admission of Myanmar’s wrongdoing that war crimes, serious human rights violations, and breaking of domestic law took place during the security operations between 25 August and 5 September 2017 merely reiterates Myanmar’s legal argument.
By weighing in on the ICJ case, the report had also contradicted the statement previously made by Commission Chair Rosario Manalo, a veteran diplomat from the Philippines, in which she claimed that her commission was not concerned with accountability.
In her words, “It’s not a diplomatic approach…to be doing finger-pointing, blaming – to say ‘you’re accountable.”
Besides, the Free Rohingya Coalition disputed the credibility and reliability of the claim by the Commission that there was no “pattern of conduct from which one could reasonably conclude that the acts were committed with ‘genocidal intent.”
It claimed to have covered “the context and historical background of Rakhine State.” Yet legal and human rights research studies that have covered the same context and historical background of Rohingyas of Rakhine have reached the conclusion that Myanmar has a well-documented policy of discrimination, disenfranchisement, persecution and violence against the Rohingya as a group, with its own distinct identity, culture, language and faith over the last 40-years.”
Among the institutions that have published studies which document and establish this pattern of Myanmar’s systematic and identity-based group destruction of Rohingyas, a UN-protected group, are the University of Washington Law School (2014), Queen Mary University of London international State Crime Initiative (2015), Yale University Lowenstein International Human Rights Law Clinic (2015) and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (2017).
Independent of one another, these credible research institutions have established the common finding that Myanmar has adopted a policy of genocidal destruction against Rohingyas as a group.
The UN-mandated International Independent Fact-Finding Mission and its two major reports of 2018 and 2019 have only reinforced the findings of the afore-mentioned legal, human rights and genocide studies.
Suu Kyi’s Independent Commission of Enquiry framed mass deportation, mass deaths and mass destruction of Rohingyas as the result of “disproportionate use of force” in response to the “internal armed conflict” between the then-fledgling Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and Myanmar Armed Forces and Police, without the intent to destroy the Rohingya community, in whole or in part, according to FRC.