Media Release from Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
For Immediate Release 6 December 2023
International Arrest Warrants sought for Min Aung Hlaing and other Military Officials over Rohingya Genocide
The Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) today petitioned a Court in Argentina to issue international arrest warrants for Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and six other Myanmar officials responsible for the genocide against the Rohingya people.
“This is a historic and unprecedented step towards accountability for the decades-long genocide against the Rohingya people. It shows that our long fight for justice is starting to bear fruit,” said Tun Khin, President of BROUK.
“The Argentinian judiciary has already committed to investigate these crimes. Now, we ask the Court to act on overwhelming evidence that these seven individuals are responsible, and to immediately issue international arrest warrants. Those committing genocide should have nowhere to hide from the law.”
Today’s development is part of the investigation in Argentina into the role of Myanmar’s civilian and military leaders in committing genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya. Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, such crimes can be investigated anywhere in the world regardless of where they were committed. The case was opened in 2021 based on a petition by BROUK.
The Argentinian prosecution has initially focused its investigation on a massacre in a Rohingya village in Rathedoung township, Rakhine State, on 27 August 2017. Myanmar military and police attacked the village, killing hundreds of Rohingya people through indiscriminate fire, mutilating bodies of victims, torching houses, and committing widespread rape and sexual violence against women and girls. Moving forward, the Prosecutor will continue the investigation into other villages and areas in Rakhine State that were subjected to “clearance operations” in 2017.
BROUK’s request for an arrest warrant names seven individuals responsible for the attack, but arrest warrants can potentially be issued for more perpetrators as the case progresses. Those named for now include senior military leaders with command responsibility for the massacre, such as Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief and current leader of the military coup in 2021, and Soe Win, Deputy Commander-in-Chief. The request also names two lower-ranking officials, a village Chairman and a police officer, who were direct perpetrators of killings and rapes during the attack. They are accused of genocide and crimes under the Argentinian penal code including aggravated murder, sexual abuse and torture.
In its 2018 report, the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar recommended that Min Aung Hlaing and other perpetrators should be prosecuted for the Rohingya genocide.
The request is based on detailed and credible evidence uncovered during the case’s investigation phase. This included eyewitness testimony from seven Rohingya genocide survivors, who traveled to Buenos Aires to testify in court in June this year.
The First Instance Federal Court Number 1 in Buenos Aires and the Prosecutor will now consider BROUK’s request for an arrest warrant. If the Court accepts it, it will automatically trigger a request to Interpol to issue international arrest warrants for the individuals identified. BROUK also asked that ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the European Union, African Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and States such as the US, the UK and Canada that have imposed economic sanctions and travel bans on perpetrators are notified about the arrest warrant.
“Those responsible for this genocide, including the horrific crimes committed on 27 August 2017, must be held to account, whether they planned them or carried them out directly. This massacre caused unimaginable suffering and is, in many ways, on its own enough to prove that a genocide is taking place. Sadly, however, it is only one of many examples of the violence and abuse Rohingya have faced for decades,” said Tun Khin.
The case in Argentina is the first universal jurisdiction case anywhere in the world concerning the Rohingya genocide. Since the case opened, BROUK has further intensified its investigation against the Myanmar military and those abetting their crimes, including by requesting information from Facebook on how anti-Rohingya hate speech was shared on the platform. During the investigation, the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) has extended support to the Prosecutor in Argentina.
BROUK’s efforts complement other international justice processes against the Myanmar military, such as the cases at the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.
These efforts have taken on new urgency since 1 February 2021, when the Myanmar military tried to seize power through a coup. Since then, the military and its proxies have killed thousands of people opposing its rule and arrested tens of thousands.
“Our fight for justice is not just for the Rohingya, but for all victims of the Myanmar military, regardless of what ethnic groups they belong to. The military has terrorized Myanmar and its people for decades, and repression has only intensified since the coup almost two years ago,” said Tun Khin.
“We commend the Argentinian judiciary´s decision to investigate the crimes committed by the military. If our request for an arrest warrant is accepted, it would be a historic development that brings hope to millions of victims. It would also show Min Aung Hlaing and other officials that the eyes of the world are on them.”
The seven individuals identified in BROUK’s request for an arrest warrant are (all titles refer to their positions at the time of the massacre on 27 August unless otherwise noted):
1. Min Aung Hlaing, Commander-in-Chief and 2021 military coup leader
2. Soe Win, Deputy Commander-in-Chief
3. Aung Kyaw Zaw, Commander of the Bureau of Special Operations No. 3
4. Maung Maung Soe, Chief of the Army's Western Command
5. Aung Aung, Commander of the Army’s Light Infantry Battalion No. 33
6. Kyaw Shay, police officer
7. Aung San Mya, village Chairman
For more information, contact Tun Khin on +447888714866.