Human rights groups, together with the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK), filed a criminal lawsuit in Argentina on Nov. 13, alleging that the government and military of Burma, including State Counsellor (and de facto leader) Aung San Suu Kyi, have committed crimes against humanity and genocide against the ethnic Rohingya minority. The complaint includes numerous accounts of mass killings, rapes and torture committed by government forces against Rohingya communities. The suit was filed with the Argentine federal courts under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which holds that any country can prosecute for certain grave crimes regardless of whether the crimes were committed within that country’s territory.
This lawsuit follows on the heels of a case filed by The Gambia with the International Court of Justice accusing Burma’s military of carrying out acts of genocide against the Rohingya. The International Criminal Court also approved a request for a formal investigation into Burma’s alleged crimes this week.
Burma, formally known as Myanmar, was ruled by a military dictatorship for decades. Aung San Suu Kyi was a democratic reformer who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her struggles for democracy and human rights. Following free elections in 2015, she was appointed State Counsellor, a position created especially for her because Burma’s constitution does not allow anyone who had a foreign spouse or children to hold the office of president—a change the military regime made specifically to bar Suu Kyi. Since taking office she has been subject to extensive criticism for her conspicuous silence over the Rohingya crisis.
From Jurist, Nov. 15. Used with permission.
Note: The International Criminal Court has opened a “preliminary examination” of the Rohingya conflict in March of this year.
Photo: VOA via Jurist