Atrocity Alert No. 37: Burma/Myanmar

4 January 2017

Atrocity Alert is a weekly publication by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect highlighting and updating situations where populations are at risk of, or are enduring, mass atrocity crimes.


On 31 December a video surfaced showing Burma/Myanmar police officers beating unarmed ethnic Rohingya men and boys in a village in Arakan/Rakhine state. Burma/Myanmar authorities have since detained four border police officers for their role in the incident, but counterinsurgency operations targeting Rohingya communities continue.

Since combined Army and Police operations began in Arakan/Rakhine state last October, there have been widespread reports of mass arrests, rape, forcible removal, extrajudicial killings and the widespread destruction of Rohingya buildings and mosques.

On 29 December, prior to the video being made public, a group of 11 Nobel Peace Prize laureates and other public figures issued an open letter to the UN Security Council urging it to encourage the government of Burma/Myanmar to lift all restrictions on humanitarian aid, journalists and human rights monitors visiting Arakan/Rakhine, as well as authorize an independent, international inquiry. The letter also calls upon the Security Council to put the situation of the Rohingya on its agenda and for the new UN Secretary-General to visit Burma/Myanmar as a matter of priority.

The government established a commission to investigate the situation in northern Arakan/Rakhine state. The commission issued its first findings on 3 January, claiming there was no evidence of genocide against the Rohingya and insufficient evidence of security forces raping civilians. International observers have questioned the impartiality of the commission, which is led by Vice President Myint Swe, a retired army general, and does not include any Rohingya or Muslim commissioners.

Ongoing Army and Police operations in Arakan/Rakhine state may constitute a policy of ethnic cleansing directed at the Rohingya minority. The government of Burma/Myanmar must uphold its responsibility to protect all populations, regardless of religion or ethnicity. The government should also:

  • Allow access for humanitarian workers, independent media and human rights observers to Arakan/Rakhine state;
  • Ensure security operations in Arakan/Rakhine state are carried out in strict compliance with international law;
  • Hold all perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable, including Army and Police officers; and
  • Abolish discriminatory laws that threaten the continued existence of the Rohingya community in Burma/Myanmar.
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect


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