Two US organisations said they had found clear evidence that Myanmar military committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Rohingyas and urged the international community to set about a criminal investigation into the atrocities.
The Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG) and US Holocaust Memorial Museum, hired by the US State Department to investigate last year's military crackdown on the Rohingyas, revealed the findings on Monday -- three months after “genocidal intent” was found in the military campaign by UN investigators.
At a press conference in Washington DC, PILPG's Paul Williams said, “It is clear from our intense legal review that there is, in fact, a legal basis to conclude that the Rohingya were the victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide."
He demanded international criminal proceedings against the perpetrators and urged the international community to pursue legal accountability for the atrocity crimes, reports CNN.
Findings of the PILPG, an international law firm, were based on the interviews with more than 1,000 Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh along with more than 7,50,000 others after the latest crackdown began in August last year.
PILPG also documented more than 13,000 instances of "grave human rights violations" during the crackdown.
About 20 percent of the interviewee told the investigators that they had been physically wounded during the attacks.
Nearly 70 percent said they had watched their homes or villages being destroyed while 80 percent witnessed the killing of a family member, friend or acquaintance.
The military actions were "highly-coordinated" and required both tactical and logistics planning, said the law firm, adding that attacks by “ARSA were simply a convenient justification" for the crackdown.
The scale and severity of the attacks and abuses suggest that the perpetrators not only wanted to expel the Rohingyas, they also wanted to kill them, said the PILPG report.
Meanwhile, Naomi Kikoler, deputy director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum's Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, said their analysis concluded there was compelling evidence that the Myanmar authorities had intentionally sought to destroy the Rohingya people because of their ethnic and religious identity.
“The Burmese military campaigns against the Rohingyas, specially the attacks of August 2017, have been deliberate, systematic, and widespread,” said Lee Feinstein, a member of the Museum's governing Council and the Chairman of its Committee on Conscience.
For decades, the Burmese government has persecuted the Rohingyas, stripping them of citizenship and subjecting them to waves of mass violence, it added.
In March 2015, the Museum issued a report warning that preconditions of genocide against the Rohingya were clearly evident.
In August 2017, attacks on the Rohingya community by the Myanmar military and others included mass killing, rape, torture, arson, arbitrary arrest and detention.
The Museum's reporting shows that other religious and ethnic communities in Myanmar --- including the Kachin and Shan -- are also at risk of mass atrocities by the Myanmar military.
Meanwhile, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom yesterday called on the US government and the international community to pursue strong policy responses, including the continued use of targeted sanctions, against Myanmar.
Meanwhile, Myanmar's Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture Thura Aung Ko yesterday said, Rohingya Muslim refugees living in Bangladesh are being “brainwashed” into “marching” on Myanmar.