The head of a Rohingya organization urgently called for the U.N. Security Council to prevent what it described as genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar.
Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK), told VOA that the Rohingya in Rakhine state, Myanmar’s far west region, continue to face a genocidal program that puts their very survival at risk.
Tens of thousands of Rohingya people were displaced between August and late September and the evidence points to a repeat of the conditions that culminated in the atrocities of 2016-17, when hundreds of thousands of Rohingya were driven from the country.
In June, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report in which it highlighted what it called Myanmar authorities’ “crimes against humanity of apartheid, persecution, and imprisonment that deprived Rohingya of their liberty and threatened their lives and livelihoods.”
According to the HRW report, over 135,000 Rohingya and Kaman Muslims have been arbitrarily and indefinitely detained in Rakhine state for a decade.
BROUK published a report titled “Prevent the Unthinkable” on December 2, a week after Myanmar was expected to report to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on its compliance with demands made by the court almost three years ago.
In January 2020, the court ordered Myanmar to take all measures, including preventing the destruction and ensuring the preservation of evidence related to alleged acts, to prevent ongoing genocide against the Rohingya minority in its territory.
Under the order, Myanmar was required to submit a report to the ICJ every six months on all measures taken until a final decision on the case is rendered by the court, which could take years. In compliance with the order, Myanmar submitted its first report on May 22, 2020, and a second on November 23, 2020, before the military overthrew the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
According to the ICJ timeline, the Myanmar junta’s most recent report was due on November 23, 2022. However, neither the ICJ nor the junta has announced anything about the report.
There was no immediate response from the Myanmar junta to BROUK’s recent report.
The ICJ had not replied to a request for comment from VOA News.
BROUK claims the Myanmar military and other organizations are ignoring the provisional measures and that genocide is ongoing. The report documented serious violations against the Rohingya committed over the past six months, including killings, sexual violence and shelling of homes, villages and mosques.
The junta, led by senior General Min Aung Hlaing, has denied accusations of genocide against the Rohingya. And in March 2021, after the military took power from the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, junta spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun said that “crimes may have been committed by personnel on an individual level.”
Tun Khin, the BROUK president, said, “It is the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council to uphold the ruling of the U.N. court, but it is failing to do so. We call for the British government, as a penholder on Myanmar at the UNSC, and other countries who are joining this ICJ case, to urgently convene a meeting of the UNSC to discuss the failure of the Myanmar military to uphold the ICJ ruling.”
The U.N. Security Council had not responded to a request for comment from VOA News.
Tun Khin told VOA: “We know that the ICJ order is effectively a legal obligation to protect the Rohingya from further harm. However, the Myanmar military is doing nothing to address the situation.
“That is why the international community must leverage the ICJ’s provisional measures order before it’s too late,” he added. “We Rohingya as survivors and victims, are calling [on] the international community, including the ICJ, to see [that] Myanmar junta’s reports [are] disclosed.”
The BROUK report also sounded an alarm about an escalating armed conflict in Rakhine state between the Myanmar military and the Arakan army. The AA is a powerful ethnic group established in 2009 to fight for autonomy in Rakhine. Rohingya communities continue to be caught in the middle of the power struggle between the two sides.
Tun Khin told VOA that his organization collected and verified evidence of alleged atrocities during the past six months in Rakhine. BROUK’s 28-page report, which was published last week, has provided more detailed accounts of alleged crimes by Myanmar security forces.
In one incident in September, Tun Khin said, “the artillery shells fired by the Myanmar military landed in a Rohingya village, killing a 7-year-old Rohingya boy.” He added that “later soldiers entered the village and attacked Rohingya as they were fleeing the shelling, stabbing at least one man in the head and arm.”
Radio Free Asia and The Irrawaddy news site confirmed the mortar attack.
Tun Khin told VOA the attack was similar to military clearance operations in the region in 2016 and 2017.
During those operations, which resulted in the exodus of an estimated 740,000 mostly Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh, Myanmar’s military committed serious human rights violations, including mass killings, torture and rape, and the destruction of homes and mosques.
The BROUK report also highlighted that about 600,000 Rohingya in Rakhine state live in what amount to open prisons with restrictions on movement, education, health care and livelihoods.