Medical and scientific evidence indicates the extent of the violence Rohingyas suffered at the hands of the Myanmar military and civilians which should be investigated as crimes against humanity, says a physicians group working with Rohingyas.
In a new report titled “Please Tell the World What They Have Done to Us”, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) detailed the findings of forensic medical evaluations of 22 Rohingya survivors of an August 2017 assault on the village of Chut Pyin in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state.
“PHR believes that the savagery inflicted on the people of Chut Pyin is a typical example of the widespread and systematic campaign that Myanmar authorities have waged against the Rohingya – acts that should be investigated as crimes against humanity,” reads the executive summary of the report.
The group came up with the observation based on the forensic examinations and the consistent and detailed testimony, as well as corroborating information from additional credible sources.
The clinical team involved in field investigations related to Chut Pyin was composed of three PHR medical experts - Rupa Patel, Homer Venters and Karen Wang. The PHR clinicians also worked with local translators and a fixer who assisted with logistical arrangements.
On August 27, 2017, Myanmar security forces and Rakhine Buddhist civilians attacked the village of Chut Pyin in northern Rakhine state, massacring its Rohingya Muslim residents and burning their homes to the ground, says the report a copy of which UNB obtained.
The attackers perpetrated a vast array of human rights violations on the Rohingya villagers, including killings, disappearances, beatings, stabbings, rape, and forcible displacement.
It is estimated that some 400 Chut Pyin villagers, including 99 children, were killed that day or are missing – including a group of 50 men who were taken away and never seen again.
Similar attacks have killed thousands of Rohingya and pushed at least 720,000 of them into Bangladesh since August 2017.
As part of a broad effort to secure forensic evidence of atrocities against the Rohingya, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) interviewed and conducted forensic examinations of 22 survivors – men, women, and children – of the Chut Pyin massacre.
The injuries PHR doctors documented, including gunshot wounds, blunt-force trauma, lacerations, and more, serve as clear medical evidence to corroborate the survivors’ accounts of shooting attacks, beatings, stabbings, and other forms of violence which occurred on that day.
The PHR has conducted three visits to Bangladesh since October 2017 to interview and carry out forensic medical examinations of Rohingya survivors of these attacks.
The report focused on the events that occurred in the village of Chut Pyin as an example of what happened in dozens of villages in Rakhine state: the Rohingya villagers faced a host of human rights violations, including killings; detentions and disappearances; physical assault involving beatings, stabbings, and mutilations; rape and other forms of sexual violence; and forced displacement in the form of looting and burning of homes.
Several survivors interviewed by PHR, many of them women and children, faced multiple violations.
Most survivors did not have access to adequate emergency medical care. They then endured a 150-kilometer (roughly 100-mile) journey, often walking for up to 10-12 days, to seek refuge in the Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh.
To date, Myanmar authorities have failed to conduct impartial and independent investigations into these events and have not fully cooperated with others seeking to do so, says the PHR.
A United Nations fact-finding mission on Myanmar, created in 2017, has a mandate to collect evidence that may be used in potential future prosecutions, but has been barred from entering the country.
Myanmar authorities also denied the UN-appointed Myanmar human rights expert, Yanghee Lee, any further access or cooperation following the publication of her findings.
In November 2017, an internal report by the Myanmar military acquitted itself of any wrongdoing and several human rights organizations have been calling on the UN Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity.
In June 2018, the ICC itself sent a request to Myanmar asking to exercise jurisdiction over the alleged crime of deportation, while one of the ICC prosecutors asked the Court to consider whether prosecution could take place through Bangladesh, given the influx of 720,00 Rohingya people into the country.
At the same time, the Myanmar government announced the creation of an “independent commission of inquiry” to investigate further allegations of human rights abuses in Rakhine state.
Given Myanmar’s limited past efforts on justice and accountability, there are reasonable grounds for concern about whether these investigations will be carried out in an objective and impartial manner, said the PHR.
Moreover, the PHR says, the Myanmar military continues to deny responsibility for incidents in the dozens of other Rohingya villages.