Human Rights Watch has warned that a panel set up by Myanmar to probe atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state does not seem to be performing its task in a “serious and impartial” manner.
“It’s now clear that Myanmar’s new ‘independent commission of inquiry’ into human rights violations committed in Rakhine State will not be a serious and impartial investigation that will identify alleged perpetrators to be brought to justice,” Richard Weir, of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Asia Division, said on Friday.
Under heavy criticism for committing violence by its security forces against the Muslim minority group, the Myanmar government established the commission in July to probe the rights abuses in a declared bid to find those responsible.
The panel referred at the time to the process of establishing accountability as “quarreling,” saying it was the opposite of looking for peace.
Judging the remarks made by the so-called commission, HRW also warned on Friday that the panel investigation should be treated with heavy skepticism lest Myanmar tried to use it to shield itself from critical scrutiny.
Rohingya Muslims previously based in Rakhine were subjected to a campaign of killings, rape, and arson attacks by the military, backed by the country’s majority Buddhist extremists, in what the UN has described as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
The brutal campaign forced some 700,000 Rohingya to flee their homeland since August 2017 and seek refuge in neighboring Bangladesh.
Many of the displaced Rohingya are either living in squalid camps or just across the border in a plot of land known as the “no man’s land.”
The United Nations Security Council calls on Myanmar to facilitate the safe return of the Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh.
The Rohingya, who have lived in Myanmar for generations, are denied citizenship and are branded illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which likewise denies them citizenship.
Their former communities in Myanmar have been razed. Report say Buddhists have been shuttled and settled there in newly-built structures to repopulate the area.
US imposes sanctions on Myanmar military over Rohingya crackdown
Meanwhile, the United States slapped sanctions on four Myanmar military and police commanders as well as two army units, accusing them of “ethnic cleansing” against Rohingya Muslims and widespread human rights abuses across the Southeast Asian nation.
“Burmese security forces have engaged in violent campaigns against ethnic minority communities across Burma, including ethnic cleansing, massacres, sexual assault, extrajudicial killings, and other serious human rights abuses,” said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, using an alternative name for Myanmar.
“Treasury is sanctioning units and leaders overseeing this horrific behavior as part of a broader US government strategy to hold accountable those responsible for such wide-scale human suffering,” Mandelker added.
The measures called for freezes of any US assets the individuals hold, a prohibition on Americans doing business with them as well as bans on travel to the United States.