Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


November 28, 2017

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Ratko Mladic, the Butcher of Bosnia, has just been found guilty of genocide. "The former general was charged for the slaughter of 8,000 unarmed Bosnian Muslim men and boys rounded up in the town of Srebrenica, and his forces' 43-month-long siege of Sarajevo in which thousands of civilians were killed by artillery, mortar, tank and sniper fire from the rugged hills ringing the capital." (Source: The Independent)

How did they prove the number of casualties in Srebrenica? The answer: There was an extensive investigation by the International Commission on Missing Persons. The ICMP was established at the behest of U.S. President Bill Clinton, and initially focused on the former Yugoslavia. It now covers other conflicts around the world as well.

Based on victims' interviews, it is self-evident that the Burma military regime has committed genocide against the Rohingya. However, to be substantiated, and for the perpetrators to be arrested and tried, this too must be investigated. Evidence admissible in court must be collected.

The United Nations announced in September that it would investigate the crimes against the Rohingya. However, U.N. investigators were blocked from going to Northern Arakan State. It is not clear if the investigators are instead working in the refugee camps in Bangladesh, which would of course make sense since this is where the survivors of the crimes have fled.

A group of Bangladesh judges also announced in October the formation of the Citizen's Commission for Investigating Genocide and Terrorism in Burma. Its plan is to interview 10,000 survivors, and to publish a report by early next year. A sample size of 10,000 would be an excellent survey for an overall population of 620,000 new refugees. The commission should be able to collect eyewitness accounts from every village and town ward that has been attacked, and extrapolate the total number of crimes starting with the worst: murders and rapes.

These investigations are absolutely critical. This assumes of course that the U.N. is still involved - that it didn't just give up. I would implore journalists covering the Rohingya crisis to question the U.N. about the status of its investigation. Does it have teams in the refugee camps? How many people have been interviewed? What is the overall investigation plan, and when do they expect to publish a report?

Similarly, one hopes that the Citizen's Commission will publish an update of its investigation as soon as this is feasible.

There may also be investigations underway by other agencies and human rights groups. These would be extremely useful as well. There needs to be as much documentation as possible. Once again, for legal verification that the Rohingya have been subjected to genocide, and to prosecute the criminals who are responsible, this work must be completed.