UN / MYANMAR FACT FINDING MISSION

22-Aug-2019 00:01:53
The UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar said the country’s military must stop using sexual and gender-based violence to terrorise and punish ethnic minorities. UNIFEED
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STORY: UN / MYANMAR FACT FINDING MISSION
TRT: 1:53
SOURCE: UNIFEED
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 22 AUGUST 2019, NEW YORK CITY
SHOTLIST
FILE - NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, UNHQ exterior

22 AUGUST 2019, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, press room
3. Wide shot, journalists
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Radhika Coomaraswamy, Member, Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar:
“If the IDPs living in Myanmar, in Sittwe, have not been relocated and have to live under this framework of what we call near-apartheid laws, what are we sending them into? Unless some kind of promise has been made, a pathway to citizenship, that will give them rights, we feel that is also a problem. So, to us it is not only the issue of safety, physically, but also the fact that they should not have to live like people are living in displaced camps in Sittwe.”
5. Wide shot, Coomaraswamy at dais
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Radhika Coomaraswamy, Member, Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar:
“We don’t want any sanctions against Myanmar or sanctions against the people of Myanmar, so if any sanctions are used, they must be targeted against specific individuals and assets, etcetera. We have especially recommended targets against the Tatmadaw economic interests and the Tatmadaw personnel whom we felt were involved in some of these atrocities.”
7. Med shot, journalist asking question
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Radhika Coomaraswamy, Member, Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar:
“In the ethnic Rakhine areas at the moment the fighting is between the Arakane Army and the Tatmadaw, and this is an interesting point of view. There are some cases of sexual violence, but not of the kind we witnessed against the Rohingya. Which raises then the whole genocide discussion because why so much against one group and not so much against the other.”
9. Wide shot, press room
STORYLINE
The UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar said the country’s military must stop using sexual and gender-based violence to terrorise and punish ethnic minorities.

The Mission said the brutal tactic was still being employed in Kachin and Shan states, and was so severe in Rakhine State, during the “clearance operations” of 2017, that it was a factor indicating the Myanmar military’s genocidal intent to destroy the Rohingya population.

The Mission made its conclusions in a new report, released today (22 Aug) in New York, that soldiers routinely and systematically employed rape, gang rape and other violent and forced sexual acts against women, girls, boys, men and transgender people in blatant violation of international human rights law.

Speaking to reporters at the UN Headquarters, Fact-Finding Mission member Radhika Coomaraswamy said entire villages in Rakhine have been bulldozed, making it impossible for refugees to return to their original villages. She said ethnically Rakhine people in Myanmar are subjected to near apartheid laws, including restrictions on their movement, marriage rights, and lack of access to education.

Asked about the over 3,000 refugees cleared to repatriate to Myanmar, Coomaraswamy said the situation was not conducive for a safe, dignified, and voluntary return.

SOUNDBITE (English) Radhika Coomaraswamy, Member, Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar:
“If the IDPs living in Myanmar, in Sittwe, have not been relocated and have to live under this framework of what we call near-apartheid laws, what are we sending them into? Unless some kind of promise has been made, a pathway to citizenship, that will give them rights, we feel that is also a problem. So, to us it is not only the issue of safety, physically, but also the fact that they should not have to live like people are living in displaced camps in Sittwe.”

The Mission conducted interviews with hundreds of survivors and witnesses of sexual violence in Kachin and Shan States in the north, and in Rakhine State in the west, where the military’s so-called clearance operations that began on 25 August 2017 led to more than 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.

The Mission said only one conclusion could be drawn from the accounts it had obtained: sexual violence perpetrated by the military was part of a deliberate, well-planned strategy to intimidate, terrorise and punish a civilian population.

Coomaraswamy underscored the need for security sector reform in Myanmar under civilian oversight. She said one of the reason that has not happened is the military’s independent economic base, including through conglomerates, companies, and a network of local and international businesses. She said the Mission was not saying not to do business with Myanmar, just not with the military.

SOUNDBITE (English) Radhika Coomaraswamy, Member, Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar:
“We don’t want any sanctions against Myanmar or sanctions against the people of Myanmar, so if any sanctions are used, they must be targeted against specific individuals and assets, etcetera. We have especially recommended targets against the Tatmadaw economic interests and the Tatmadaw personnel whom we felt were involved in some of these atrocities.”

The report said that Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, demonstrated its genocidal intent against the Rohingya population through the widespread and systematic killing of women and girls, the systematic selection of women and girls of reproductive ages for rape, attacks on pregnant women and on babies, the mutilation and other injuries to their reproductive organs, the physical branding of their bodies by bite marks on their cheeks, neck, breast and thigh, and so severely injuring victims that they may be unable to have sexual intercourse with their husbands or to conceive and leaving them concerned that they would no longer be able to have children.

SOUNDBITE (English) Radhika Coomaraswamy, Member, Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar:
“In the ethnic Rakhine areas at the moment the fighting is between the Arakane Army and the Tatmadaw, and this is an interesting point of view. There are some cases of sexual violence, but not of the kind we witnessed against the Rohingya. Which raises then the whole genocide discussion because why so much against one group and not so much against the other.”

The majority of assaults reported were directed at women and girls who were beaten, burned with cigarettes, slashed with knives, raped and held as sexual slaves on military bases. The report also documents cases of rape, forced nudity and the sexual torture of men and boys.

The report also documents rape, gang rape and other sexual violence, sometimes deadly, against boys and men. In one incident in Kachin State’s Myitkyina Township, Myanmar Intelligence Office agents forced two male detainees to undress and rape each other. The agents reportedly laughed as they watched, asking “Are you enjoying yourselves?”

The report also examined how gender inequality within Myanmar and within ethnic communities enables sexual and gender-based violence.

The Mission said it felt compelled to update the findings it made in an earlier 2018 report to the Human Rights Council to underscore the importance of accountability for perpetrators.

Many of these acts amount to crimes under international law, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide. Yet, the Myanmar Government has failed to cease, prevent and take action against sexual and gender-based violence in the country, or hold those responsible to account.

Coomaraswamy stressed that a local solution to hold those responsible accountable was no longer feasible and called for setting up an international mechanism or a hybrid court to deal with the crimes committed.

The Fact-Finding Mission will present its final report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2019.
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