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UN report: Myanmar generals should be prosecuted for genocide, war crimes

A report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday is calling for the investigation and prosecution of Myanmar's military leaders for war crimes, including Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing. (YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.N. Human Rights Council released a report Monday, calling for the investigation and prosecution of Myanmar's top military leaders.

A year-long fact-finding mission determined that six Tatmadaw military commanders — including Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing — are responsible for leading a campaign of genocide and other war crimes against Rohingya Muslims in the country.

What did the report find?

The report cited "patterns of gross human rights violations and abuses" that "undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law."

Investigators conducted 875 interviews and utilized satellite footage to compile accounts of land confiscation, enslavement, mass killings, the burning of entire villages, and large-scale gang rapes.

According to the panel, the investigators received credible reports that in the Rakhine state, up to 40 women and girls at a time were publicly raped in front of children. The mission also cites accounts of genital mutilation and sexualized torture of men, women, boys, and girls.

In its recommendation to the Human Rights Council, the report urged the U.N. to turn the investigation over to the International Criminal Court.  The report said "the crimes in Rakhine state, and the manner in which they were perpetrated, are similar in nature, gravity and scope to those that have allowed genocidal intent to be established in other contexts."

Myanmar's government refused to cooperate with the investigation and has denied allegations of widespread violence — dismissing the reported clashes as attempted uprisings from Muslim militants. Investigators were not allowed to enter Myanmar, but reported that the country's military has been given full reign and is now considered above the law.

What's the background?

Since August 2016, more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh, causing a humanitarian crisis.

In September 2017, U.N. Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called the situation in Myanmar a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing," condemning the government's lack of response and calling on them to "stop claiming the Rohingyas are setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their own villages."

According to Business Insider, the Rohingya have lived in Myamnar's Rakhine state since the 8th century, but the government considers them illegal immigrants and has persecuted the group for decades.

Business Insider also reported that attacks against the Rohingya ramped up in 2016 after a Rohingya insurgent group killed 10 Myanmar police officers in an attack.

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