Violence and the military operations against the Rohingya in recent years constitute genocide and crimes against humanity, human right defenders Fortify Rights categorically state in their report released on Thursday, which identifies 22 Myanmar Army and Police officials who should be criminally investigated for their roles in the atrocities.
The 160-page report entitled “They gave them long swords” documented how the Myanmar authorities committed mass killings, rape and arson attacks against Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine’s Maungdaw township between October and November 2016.
“When the international community failed to effectively respond to these attacks, Myanmar authorities made preparations to commit another attack that extended through all three townships of Rakhine – Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung,” the group’s statement read.
The latest chapter in the Rohingya crisis took place in August last year, when its resistance fighters launched a series of attacks on Myanmar security outposts. This prompted a harsh response and a concerted “clearance operation”, that killed scores of civilians and displaced some 700,000 people.
The report found at least 27 Myanmar Army battalions, comprising up to 11,000 soldiers, along with three combat police battalions, comprising an estimated 900 police, were involved in the attacks in Rakhine State beginning in August last year.
The report is based on a 21-month-long investigation, including 254 interviews conducted by Fortify Rights in Myanmar and Bangladesh with Rohingya eyewitnesses and survivors, Myanmar military and police personnel, Bangladesh military and government officials, members and former members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA)—also known as al Yaqin, a militant Rohingya group—international and local humanitarian aid workers, medical physicians, and others.
The Rohingya community and the United Nations human right agency recently called for an independent investigation into the genocide but international prosecutors have yet to respond.