UK Group Hands ICC Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity by Myanmar Regime
By The Irrawaddy 9 December 2021
A UK-based nongovernmental organization has submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) it says proves that Myanmar junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is guilty of crimes against humanity.
As commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing led a military coup on Feb. 1 that overthrew Myanmar’s elected government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD).
In its submission under Article 15 of the Rome Statute—the international treaty that established the Hague-based ICC—the Myanmar Accountability Project (MAP) urged the court to open a criminal investigation into the widespread and systematic use of torture as part of the regime’s violent crackdown against the protest movement in the country.
“The leader of the illegal coup is criminally responsible for the security forces under his command committing mass atrocity crimes,” said MAP director Chris Gunness. “The prospects of a conviction are good and we believe that grounds for issuing an arrest warrant against Min Aung Hlaing are overwhelming.”
The MAP said it submitted to the ICC “clear evidence of torture” against a named individual, along with legal analysis to show that the use of torture in Myanmar is widespread, systematic and the result of state-wide policies. “This clearly meets the threshold of crimes against humanity,” the NGO said in a statement Thursday.
“Our submission to the ICC sets out a powerful case for criminal responsibility for these crimes going all the way up to Min Aung Hlaing himself,” Gunness said.
In its statement, the MAP said the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) has collected over 219,000 items of information since the coup. It quoted IIMM head Nicholas Koumjian as saying there is “evidence [that] shows security forces acting in a coordinated manner across different regions, systematically targeting specific categories of persons, such as journalists and medical professionals.” The IIMM was established in 2018 by the UN Human Rights Council to collect evidence of international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011.
Meanwhile, Myanmar’s shadow civilian National Unity Government (NUG) is also working to prosecute Myanmar’s military at the ICC. The NUG was set up in the wake of the coup by ousted NLD lawmakers and their ethnic allies.
Myanmar is not an ICC member, but Acting President Duwa Lashi La of the NUG lodged a declaration with the ICC registrar in August, accepting the ICC’s jurisdiction with respect to international crimes committed in Myanmar since July 1, 2002, the earliest date permitted by the Rome Statute.
Myanmar’s military regime has attracted international condemnation since the February coup for its use of deadly violence against pro-democracy protesters and other civilians including children. Among the most recent incidents to make international headlines, junta forces used a vehicle to ram a peaceful anti-coup protest in Yangon’s Kyimyindaing Township on Dec. 5, killing at least four people and injuring dozens, and regime forces allegedly burned alive 10 villagers, including five teenagers aged between 14 and 17, in Salingyi Township, Sagaing Region, on Dec. 8.
As of Tuesday, 1,305 people had been killed by junta forces since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group that has been monitoring deaths and arrests since the military seized power. Another 10,756 people, including democratically elected government leaders, have been detained by the junta, it said.
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