November 7, 2014
[JURIST] An investigation [report, PDF] conducted by the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School [official website] determined three Myanmar Army commanders committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Thandaung Township, Kayin State, between January 2005 and December 2006. The study explains that beginning in 2005, the Myanmar Army engaged [press release] in human rights violations when they fired mortars, killed villagers, burned homes and laid landmines in the village, displacing more than 42,000 residents. Military policies authorized targeting civilians, according to the report, through methods such as armed tactics and destruction of property. The evidence collected by the clinic includes witness accounts of the events, human rights documents, photographs and expert declarations, which they believe are enough to bring a case against the commanders under Articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute [text] of the International Criminal Court [official website]. Additionally, the clinic believes there may be enough evidence to file charges against other officers in the military as well, under the theories of individual criminal responsibility and command responsibility.
In the past year, Myanmar has received criticism from international organizations and human rights groups. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] called on Myanmar in May to pass more protective media laws [JURIST report] and end arbitrary arrests of journalists, listing several journalists that have been arrested since December. In April Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Tomas Ojea Quintana from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] over the deteriorating human rights situation in the country’s Rakhine State [JURIST news archive]. Fortify Rights [advocacy website], an independent human rights group based in Southeast Asia, issued a 79-page report in February claiming evidence the Myanmar government ordered policy discrimination [JURIST report] against Rohingya Muslims.