Rebel coalition supports int’l lawsuits against Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar

A coalition of ethnic rebel groups has welcomed efforts by the international community to punish Myanmar’s military through legal processes for alleged genocide against ethnic minority groups including Rohingya Muslims in the country’s west.

Three members of the Northern Alliance bloc of armed groups — the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Arakan Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army — issued a joint statement on Thursday welcoming three lawsuits against Myanmar at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and an Argentine court for rights violations in ethnic areas.

The groups said that during the past 70 years of the ongoing civil conflict, Myanmar’s military has committed genocide, extrajudicial arrests, inhuman torture, massacres, abductions and use of gang rape as instruments of war.

They added that they stand ready to cooperate and collect evidence of war crimes by the military in northeastern Shan state and western Rakhine state between 2009 and 2019 and are in full support of the international organizations that have taken up the matter with the ICC and ICJ.

TNLA spokesperson Mai Aik Kyaw told Anadolu Agency that the groups had already gathered information and evidence of rights abuses by the military against ethnic people as well as “Bengali Muslims”, referring Rohingya Muslim community in Rakhine state.

“Some people may call us traitors, but we consider it is one possible way to bring justice for those who have suffered from the military’s abuses,” he said by phone.

The groups, which have not signed the government-sponsored Nationwide Ceasefire Accord, have been engaging in fierce fighting with the military in northern parts of Shan state and in Rakhine state over the past few years.

A persecuted people

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.”

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
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