Save the Children welcomes the main findings and recommendations of the Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released today.
A year after renewed violence and atrocities in Rakhine State caused over 700,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh, the devastating impact on children has been made clear. In particular, the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission found:
- Widespread and systematic attacks on the civilian population in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States, which amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes, and possibly genocide perpetrated against the Rohingya.
- In renewed violence in Rakhine State since August 2017, children were subjected to, and witnessed, serious human rights violations including killing, maiming and sexual violence. Children were killed in front of their parents, and young girls were targeted for sexual violence. Of approximately 500,000 Rohingya children in Bangladesh, many fled alone after their parents were killed or after being separated from their families. The Mission met many children with visible injuries matching accounts of being shot, stabbed or burned.
The Mission proposed an accountability process that is transformative, victim-centred, comprehensive, and inclusive, and said that it must come from the international community in order to break the climate of impunity and ensure that all State institutions are answerable to the people.
In response to the Fact Finding Mission report, Save the Children Country Director in Myanmar, Michael McGrath said:
“The evidence presented by the International Independent Fact Finding Mission is clear. Thousands of children in Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan states have suffered enormously at the hands of the Myanmar military and other groups, and the time for greater action is long overdue.
“Children and their families have been murdered, sexually assaulted and forced to flee burning villages, and they have not yet seen the justice they deserve. Establishing the facts through the Fact Finding Mission was a critical first step to achieving justice, however now there must be a move towards investigations for prosecution in order to ensure accountability.
“Save the Children is calling on the UN Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court without delay. We also urge the Human Rights Council to establish an international, impartial, and independent mechanism at the 39th session in September, resourced with experts who have specific experience to interview children who have suffered and witnessed atrocities. Children should also be provided support that enables them psychosocial support, and access to justice, reparations, and reintegration.
“Achieving a true measure of accountability is necessary to achieve justice, build trust for future repatriation, and send a powerful message that committing atrocities in Rakhine State and elsewhere will no longer be tolerated.
“To date the Government of Myanmar has failed to take credible and timely steps to investigate the crimes that have occurred and end impunity. They have repeatedly denied responsibility, blocked independent investigations and impeded international human rights mechanisms, restricted humanitarian access and imprisoned journalists investigating the issues. The international community needs to send a firm signal to all perpetrators, including the Myanmar military, that crimes of this magnitude will not be allowed to pass unaccounted for.”
For interviews, call Jess Brennan on 0421 334 918