BERLIN/ BANGKOK: Myanmar activists and 16 alleged victims of abuse have filed a criminal complaint in Germany, accusing top generals of instigating genocide against Rohingya Muslims and other atrocities since a military coup two years ago.
The filing is the latest in a series of international legal efforts to try to hold the Myanmar military accountable for alleged atrocities against the country’s Rohingya minority and democracy supporters and civilians opposed to the coup.
Fortify Rights, a human rights group backing the complaint, said Germany was picked because of its recognition of the principle of “universal jurisdiction”, which holds that a national court can try individuals accused of serious international crimes.
“The complaint provides new evidence proving that the Myanmar military systematically killed, raped, tortured, imprisoned, disappeared, persecuted, and committed other acts that amount to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes,” Matthew Smith, chief executive officer and co-founder at Fortify Rights, told a news conference in Bangkok.
A spokesman for Myanmar’s military government did not answer a call seeking comment on the complaint filed in Germany. The military has in the past denied rights abuses.
Fortify Rights hopes German authorities will take up the complaint and launch an investigation.
A German court last year jailed a Syrian ex-intelligence officer for life for murder, rape and crimes against humanity, marking the first conviction for state-backed torture committed during Syria’s civil war.
The German embassy in Myanmar could not immediately be reached for comment.
The 16 individual complainants in the Myanmar filing include ethnic Rohingya and others who survived or witnessed crimes in Myanmar since the coup, Fortify Rights said.
The International Court of Justice has been hearing allegations that Myanmar committed genocide in a case brought by Gambia after hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh to escape a Myanmar military offensive launched in August 2017.
Last year, another civil society group, the Myanmar Accountability Project, said Turkish authorities had initiated a preliminary investigation after it filed a case against members of the Myanmar junta over alleged atrocities since the coup. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)