Starting in October 2016 and then again in August 2017, Myanmar’s security forces engaged in so-called “clearance operations” against the Rohingya, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority, in Rakhine State, Myanmar. The operations, in particular those that started in August 2017, were characterized by brutal violence and serious human rights violations on a mass scale. Survivors report indiscriminate killings, rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detention, torture, beatings, and forced displacement. Reports have also shown that security forces were systematically planning for such an operation against the Rohingya even before the purported reason for the violence — retaliation for small scale attacks committed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) — occurred. As a result, an estimated 745,000 people — mostly ethnic Rohingya — were forced to flee to Bangladesh.
According to the UN Human Rights Council-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar(FFM), the treatment of the Rohingya population during the “clearance operations” amounts to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, the commission of which evokes specific obligations and responsibility under international law.
And yet, despite extensive and meticulous documentation, as well as a global outcry from the international community, Myanmar continues unabatedin its discriminatory treatment of the Rohingya and accountability for these horrific international crimes remains elusive. This fact sheet examines current accountability efforts, including at the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) and International Criminal Court (“ICC”) and seeks to clarify available avenues for justice for the crimes committed against the Rohingya population, with a focus on state responsibility for genocide.