A leaked memo shows how the Myanmar military is desperately trying to hide from international scrutiny of its atrocity crimes against the Rohingya and other people in Myanmar, the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) said today.
A memo from a senior official in the Myanmar military, issued on 6 January 2022 but made public this week, orders all military personnel not to answer letters related to arrest warrants or summons from the International Criminal Court (ICC) or the Argentinian judiciary.
“It is outrageous, but far from surprising, that Myanmar military is now desperately trying to cover the tracks of its genocidal crimes against the Rohingya. This leaked memo shows clearly how the Myanmar junta can never be trusted to cooperate with international justice mechanisms in good faith,” said Tun Khin, President of BROUK.
“This memo is, however, also a sign that the efforts to hold the junta to account for its atrocities are working. It shows that the international community must redouble all efforts to bring Min Aung Hlaing and his cronies to justice.”
The ICC in November 2019 opened a case against Myanmar over crimes against humanity against the Rohingya. In December 2021, the Argentinian judiciary furthermore accepted a petition by BROUK to open a case against senior military officials over genocide and crimes against humanity in Rakhine State since 2016.
The leaked memo makes specific references to both processes and to BROUK as an organisation, while ordering all military personnel not to “accept any letters or arrest orders” from the ICC or Argentinian Courts “related to travel restrictions or arrest warrants or summons”. It is signed by Captain Aung Ko Zaw.
Apart from the judicial bodies, the memo also bans military personnel from accepting letters from “plaintiffs”, a reference to the many victims involved in the judicial processes. BROUK’s case in Argentina, for example, includes as witnesses six women who survived sexual violence during the military operation in Rakhine State in 2017.
Last month, the independent media outlet Myanmar Now revealed that the junta had issued a separate order to all of its staff to not receive any notifications issued by international courts seeking to prosecute junta leaders. That order was signed by Tun Tun Oo, a former general appointed by the regime to serve as Myanmar’s Chief Justice.
Myanmar has led a decades-long genocide against the Rohingya people. In August 2017, the Myanmar military and its proxies launched a vicious operation in Rakhine State, killing thousands of Rohingya and driving hundreds of thousands to flee into Bangladesh.
Since seizing power in a coup on 1 February 2021, the Myanmar military has further driven Myanmar to the brink of ruin. The economy and public services have been decimated, while the junta has killed more than 1,400 people and arresting and torturing thousands of others.
“The Myanmar military has terrorised all people in Myanmar for decades with impunity. The only way to break this horrific cycle of abuse is to ensure that those responsible are held to account,” said Tun Khin.
“Myanmar military will never discipline itself, so international justice is the only answer. Instead of trying to sweep its own crimes under the carpet, the Myanmar military should cooperate fully with all international justice efforts, including by the ICC and in Argentina.”
“This must also be a wakeup call to the international community to act. The UN Security Council must support a full referral of the situation in Myanmar to the ICC, while other countries should look to open universal jurisdiction cases like the one in Argentina.”
For more information, please contact Tun Khin +44 7888714866.