Human rights NGO Fortify Rights Tuesday filed a criminal complaint against senior Myanmar military generals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, the organization filed its claim in Germany.
Half of the 16 individual complainants survived the Rohingya genocide in 2016 and 2017. Along with the individuals’ testimonies, the complaint draws on more than 1,000 interviews with survivors of international crimes in Myanmar since 2013. The complaint alleges that the Myanmar military committed acts of genocide, including the systematic rape, killing, torture and imprisonment of the Rohingya minority. It also argues that senior military officials failed to take any action to prevent these crimes from happening or punish the perpetrators.
CEO and co-founder of Fortify Rights Matthew Smith described the lawsuit as an attempt “to seek justice” against the Myanmar military who have “enjoy[ed] complete impunity” against crimes which “cannot go unpunished.” This complaint is part of wider efforts to ensure accountability, which include an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, the scope of the ICC’s investigation does not encompass the vast majority of crimes against the Rohingya, as the crimes were not committed on territories under its jurisdiction.
August 2022 marked five years since the Myanmar military’s “most egregious attacks on the Rohingya people,” and rights groups allege that the country continues to perpetrate a process of ethnic cleansing. According to Human Rights Watch, 900,000 Rohingya live in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Those who remained in Myanmar are “subject to government persecution and violence, confined to camps and villages without freedom of movement, and cut off from access to adequate food, health care, education, and livelihoods.”
(c) 2023, Jurist