An independent panel created by the Myanmar government has concluded that government security forces committed war crimes against Rohingya Muslims but that they did not commit genocide against the ethnic minority.
The findings were included in a report released Monday by the Independent Commission of Inquiry.
The commission, established by the government in July 2018, says it was “tasked to investigate allegations of human rights violations and related issues” after terrorist attacks in 2017 by a Rohingya insurgent group in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
The Myanmar government responded to the attacks with a military-led crackdown against the insurgent group, known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.
More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine state to neighboring Bangladesh during the weekslong crackdown that was widely condemned internationally.
The United Nations said mass rapes and murders were carried out “with genocidal intent.” Hundreds of villages and thousands of homes were also burned to the ground during the crackdown.
The commission said there were “reasonable grounds” to conclude that government security forces were among the “multiple actors” who committed possible war crimes and serious human rights violations during the campaign. “
The killing of innocent villagers and destruction of their homes were committed by some members of Myanmar’s security forces through disproportionate use of force during the internal armed conflict,” the commission said.
But the panel also said, “There is insufficient evidence to argue, much less conclude, that the crimes committed were undertaken with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, or with any other requisite mental state for the international crime of genocide.”
The government created the commission in 2018 amid growing calls for accountability. It appointed two local and two international members: Filipino diplomat Rosario Manalo and Japanese ambassador to the United Nations Kenzo Oshima.
Myanmar President Win Myint said Tuesday the government “concurred” with the panel’s findings and promised to pursue other investigations, specifically those pertaining to crimes allegedly committed by Rohingya militants and other civilians.
Myanmar expert Christina Fink of George Washington University in Washington told VOA’s Burmese service she was encouraged the report revealed war crimes and other human rights violations, but she noted it did not include the perspective of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh who fled from the atrocities.
Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., Ambassador Hau Do Suan, said in an interview with VOA’s Burmese service it is unfair for outsiders to criticize the report for not including the views of the Rohingya because as far as he could determine, the commission’s request to visit the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh was not fulfilled.
The ambassador also said he does not believe the report will influence a decision Thursday by the U.N.’s International Court of Justice.
Gambia brought the case before the court last year, alleging on behalf of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation that genocide occurred in Myanmar and continues.