The International Criminal Court opened a preliminary investigation into Myanmar’s alleged crimes against Rohingya Muslims. The probe comes after Myanmar refused to provide military figures for UN investigation last month. The ICC move could lead to a full investigation into the Myanmar military crackdown which has displaced over 700,000 and killed thousands.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi spoke at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Vietnam on Thursday and admitted the Rohingya Muslim displacement situation ‘could have been handled better.’ Suu Kyi also defended the internationally condemned arrests of two Reuters journalists, saying their jailing had ‘nothing to do with freedom of expression at all.’
Two Reuters journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison by a Myanmar court for breaking the Official Secrets Act while investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims, which the UN calls ‘ethnic cleansing.’. The journalists, Myanmar nationals, pleaded not guilty when charged in July. The journalists believe their arrests were a ‘preplanned and staged’ effort.
A dam burst in central Myanmar on Wednesday, flooding homes and displacing up to 50,000 people. Authorities urged residents to evacuate in case of worsening floods. Rescuers are working as authorities fear thousands may be trapped in their homes. Officials are examining a bridge connecting two major cities that was damaged by the floodwaters.
The UN released a report saying that top officials from Myanmar must be investigated for genocide in Rakhine state and other crimes against humanity. The report is the UN’s strongest condemnation for the violence against Rohingya Muslims. UN investigators criticized Facebook for allowing its platform to be used to incite violence and hatred.
United Nations officials accused Facebook of playing a ‘determining role’ in spreading hate speech in Myanmar and influencing possible genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority. UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee says Facebook is an integral part of public, civil, and private life in Myanmar, and the government uses the platform to communicate information to citizens.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum revoked the human rights award awarded to Myanmar civil leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, in 2012, citing the Rohingya Muslims massacre continuing under her watch. The museum wrote to the leader, saying they hoped she ‘would have done something to condemn and stop the military’s brutal campaign.’
Bangladesh summoned Myanmar’s Ambassador Lwin Oo, Thursday, to ask for the immediate removal of the troops that have been deployed, with heavy weapons, to line their shared border where thousands of Rohingya refugees have taken shelter. Nearly 100,00 Rohingya have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since August, after attacks labeled ‘ethnic cleansing’ by the United Nations.
Prosecutors announced, Wednesday, that two Reuters journalists were formally charged with obtaining state secrets in Myanmar and face up to 14 years in prison. The documents allegedly obtained by the journalists related to supposed ‘ethnic cleansing’ by Myanmar’s military. The military made a rare admission of wrongdoing, saying 10 Rohingya ‘terrorists’ were murdered by soldiers.
Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, visited Myanmar Wednesday to meet with their military commander and civilian government leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Tillerson pleaded with officials to investigate the security forces’ actions against Rohingya Muslims. Over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh, the United Nations calling it a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing.’