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Asia-Pacific

Myanmar faces genocide charges, Suu Kyi criticised

media Myanmar's General Min Aung Hlaing, main accused in the UN genocide report REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

UN investigators accuse Myanmar's military of genocide against Rohingya Muslims, as Nobel laureate Aung Saan Suu Kyi is criticised for lack of "moral authority".

United Nations investigators have called for an international probe of Myanmar's army chief and five other top military commanders, accusing them of genocide against the country's Rohingya minority.

Meanwhile, a Myanmar court postponed ruling on two Reuters journalists held in custody since December, accused of violating state secrets law while reporting on the Rohingya crisis.

Myanmar has never allowed UN investigators or journalists to access the country freely. UN investigators reached their conclusions by interviewing more than 800 victims and eyewitnesses. They also used satellite imagery and authenticated documents and videos.

The report detailed a horrifying list of atrocities committed against the Rohingya, including murder, enforced disappearance and torture. Particularly horrifying were reports of rape and other sexual violence "perpetrated on a massive scale."

The UN team reported that that soldiers had carried out "large-scale gang rape", sometimes of as many as 40 girls and women at once, in at least 10 Rakhine villages.
 

Specifically, the investigators named Commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing and five other military commanders, saying that a longer list of names could be released to international prosecuting authorities.

Horrific eyewitness acounts, Nobel laureate Suu Kyi also criticised.

Information collected suggested that the previous estimate by the Doctors Without Borders charity, reporting up to 10,000 Rohingya killed in the 2017 crackdown, was "conservative".

Criticism was also directed at civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and target of widespread condemnation for failing to stand up for the stateless Rohingya minority.

The report said that she failed to use her position as head of government and did not implement her "moral authority" to prevent the atrocities.

Facebook bans Burmese army chief

The investigators also highlighted the role Facebook had played, describing it as "a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate".

In response, Facebook banned Myanmar's army chief on Monday and removed other pages tied to the country's military.

Some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh since the brutal crackdown in August last year on insurgents.

Authorities in Myanmar have always vehemently denied allegations of ethnic cleansing, insisting it was responding to attacks by Rohingya rebels.

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