Rohingya refugees react to United Nations pressing genocide charges against Myanmar's top generals

Pompeo Decries ‘Abhorrent Ethnic Cleansing' in Myanmar

Some of the most senior members of the Myanmar military should be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya, a United Nations fact-finding mission said on Monday, in a landmark recommendation that personally names officers it says should be investigated.

Pompeo's statement came on the one year anniversary of the conflict in western Myanmar's Rakhine state that drove more than 700,000 Rohingya from their homes into neighboring Bangladesh.

The authors criticised Aung San Suu Kyi, and said she had "not used her de facto position as Head of Government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events" in Rakhine state. "There is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Tatmadaw [army] chain of command, so that a competent court can determine their liability for genocide in relation to the situation in Rakhine state". Her government "contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes" by letting hate speech thrive, destroying documents and failing to shield minorities from crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The report calls for the case to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The U.N. report said the military action, which included the torching of villages, was "grossly disproportionate to actual security threats".

The fact-finding mission went beyond the military's actions in Rakhine and investigated its conduct more broadly since 2011, a time when the world was celebrating the country's opening to the West and nominally democratic transformation.

"The Tatmadaw's contempt for human life... and for global law, should be a cause of concern for the entire population of Myanmar and for the worldwide community", Marzuki Darusman, chair of the fact-finding mission on Myanmar, said at a press conference.

The U.S., which has described the stateless Rohingya as facing "ethnic cleansing", and the European Union have begun applying sanctions to selected military officers involved in the Rakhine campaign, though not Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.

The piece, which found more than 1,000 posts, comments and images attacking Muslims on the platform, demonstrated that Facebook, despite repeated warnings, had devoted scant resources to controlling the problem in Myanmar, where it is the dominant social media force.

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Myanmar border guard police patrol the fence in the "no man's land" zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh, as seen from Maungdaw, Rakhine state, during a government-organized visit for journalists on August 24.

The team cited a "conservative" estimate from aid group Reporters Without Borders that some 10,000 people were killed in the violence, but outside investigators have had no access to the affected regions - making a precise accounting elusive, if not impossible.

The accounts were followed by a total of nearly 12 million people, Facebook said, adding that data had been preserved.

The UN recommendation for genocide charges cited evidence like this.

In the meantime, the report's findings will likely increase the pressure on Myanmar and its armed forces, which continue to control the political system after formally ending a almost half-century dictatorship in 2011.

Human rights watchers say that determining "genocidal intent" is perhaps the most hard criteria to meet: In essence, it's the task of assessing the mindsets of perpetrators to determine if ethnicity, race, religion or another attribute had motivated them.

"The scale, brutality and systematic nature of these violations indicate that rape and sexual violence are part of a deliberate strategy to intimidate, terrorise or punish a civilian population, and are used as a tactic of war", the report said.

"I think what's happened is this United Nations fact-finding mission has taken a lot of time and a lot of trouble to really try to amass as much evidence as they can, to double check allegations, to go back for more interviews and I think that's why it's taken the time that it has", said Rae. "So it's hard to say exactly that there's a link between the postponement and the UN [Security Council] meeting, but there are possibilities", defense lawyer Than Zaw Aung said.

Soldiers gang-raped women, sometimes raping them with knives and sticks, often in public to maximize their humiliation.

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