Human Rights Watch has called on Myanmar to disband its latest independent commission tasked with investigating allegations of abuse against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, charging it is "unwilling to seriously investigate alleged grave crimes against ethnic Rohingya."
A statement issued by the New York-based human rights organization singled out Aung Tun Htet, a member of the commission, who said in March that Myanmar has a "clear conscience" and that "there is no such thing in our country, as ethnic cleansing, and no genocide," as reported by dpa. HRW asserted that this statement demonstrated the commission member's clear bias.
The four-member commission, established by the Myanmar government in May, has been routinely criticized by observers for being a political tool that they claim will not lead to justice or accountability for rights abuses and instead delay efforts at justice.
On Dec. 12, Rosario Manalo, chair of the Independent Commission of Enquiry, told reporters at a news conference that the commission had found "no evidence" to support allegations of abuse by the Myanmar military in the first four months of their investigation.
The Myanmar military stands accused of "genocide" and "crimes against humanity" by numerous international organizations, including the U.N., Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Fortify Rights, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, describing evidence of rights abuses in numerous reports.
Lately, a key U.N. committee overwhelmingly approved a Turkish-backed resolution last month, strongly condemning the continuing "gross human rights violations and abuses" against Rohingya Muslims who are treated as outsiders in Myanmar and were victims of a brutal campaign by the country's military. The resolution reiterated "deep distress" at reports that unarmed Rohingya are still being subjected to excessive use of force and rights violations by Myanmar's military and security forces, including killings and rapes. It expressed "grave concern" at the findings of the U.N. fact-finding mission on Myanmar, which concluded that some top Myanmar military leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Rohingya. Rohingya Muslims are the most persecuted minority in the world according to U.N. figures and continue to suffer from oppression under the Myanmar government, the army and Buddhist extremists. Over the past decade, thousands of Rohingya have been killed since violence broke out in 2008, causing hundreds of thousands to flee their homeland for Bangladesh, Malaysia and other countries in the region. Although the numbers are contested, it is known that thousands of people have been killed in the last few years, while more than a million had to flee. The Myanmar army has set Rohingya villages on fire, bulldozing many of them and even uprooting trees and destroying farms to make the area uninhabitable.