DHAKA: Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi failed to protect Rohingya Muslims from mass murder orchestrated by the country’s military commander-in-chief and five generals, who should be prosecuted for genocide, a damning UN report said on Monday.
Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, had “not used her de facto position as head of government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events,” UN investigators said.
Her government “through their acts and omissions ... have contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes,” their report said.
About 700,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine state to Bangladesh after Myanmar launched a brutal crackdown in August 2017. The refugees described arson, murder and rape at the hands of soldiers and vigilante mobs.
A UN investigation panel interviewed 875 victims and witnesses in Bangladesh and other countries, and analyzed documents, videos, photographs and satellite images.
Their report detailed a horrifying list of atrocities including murder, enforced disappearance, torture, and sexual violence “on a massive scale.” The investigators said an estimate that up to 10,000 Rohingya had been killed was “conservative.”
They also found that soldiers had carried out “large-scale gang rape,” sometimes of as many as 40 girls and women at once, in at least 10 Rakhine villages.
“The scale, brutality and systematic nature of these violations indicate that rape and sexual violence are part of a deliberate strategy to intimidate, terrorize or punish a civilian population, and are used as a tactic of war,” the report said.
The report named the military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing and five senior generals as having orchestrated the crackdown. Panel member Christopher Sidoti said all six generals should be prosecuted for genocide, even in the absence of a “smoking gun” to prove who had ordered the crimes.
Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar told Arab News on Monday they had expected more of Aung San Suu Kyi.
“We were happy when she won the election and formed the government, but the level of our sufferings and torture from the state authority were doubled when she took over power,” said Abul Hashem, 47.
Nurul Islam, 55, said: “During her regime our women were abused and raped. How can she compensate for this crime against humanity?”
Karim Mollah, 42, said: “If she can’t protect us she should have stepped down. She has snatched our present days and stolen the future of our next generation.”
The UN report also criticized Facebook for allowing its network to be used to spread hatred and incite violence. The social media giant immediately shut down pages run by Min Aung Hlaing, other senior military figures and the army’s TV network.