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HARVARD REPORT :Myanmar Officials Implicated in War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity

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Senior Myanmar Officials Implicated in War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Myanmar must decide how to address legacy of abuses by military November 6, 2014, Yangon, Myanmar—A four-year investigation by the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School has found that the Myanmar military committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2005-2006, and that perpetrators, including the current Home Affairs Minister, continue to serve at the highest levels of the country’s government. Today, the Clinic released a legal memorandum, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in Eastern Myanmar, which examines the conduct of the Myanmar military during an offensive that cleared and forcibly relocated civilian populations from conflict zones in eastern Myanmar. Through more than 150 interviews with eyewitnesses, the Clinic documented how soldiers fired mortars at villages; opened fire on fleeing villagers; destroyed homes, crops, and food stores; laid landmines in civilian locations; forced civilians to work and porter; and captured and executed civilians. “These are serious allegations that demand a determined, good faith response by the Myanmar government and military,” said Tyler Giannini, Co-Director of the Clinic. “The abuses perpetrated by the military have been too widespread, too persistent, and too grave to be ignored.”http://hrp.law.harvard.edu/press-releases/clinic-investigation-senior-mynamar-officials-implicated-in-war-crimes-and-crimes-against-humanity/
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   L  EGAL M EMORANDUM :  War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Eastern Myanmar  November 2014 hrp.law.harvard.edu   International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School Legal Memorandum: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Eastern Myanmar ii International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School The International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School (“the Clinic”) works to protect the human rights of clients and communities around the world. The Clinic undertakes projects focusing on fact-finding, litigation, legal and policy analysis, report drafting for international oversight bodies, and the development of advocacy strategies. Through supervised practice, students learn the responsibilities and skills of human rights lawyering. International Human Rights Clinic Harvard Law School 6 Everett Street, 3 rd  Floor Cambridge, MA 02138 USA  Website: hrp.law.harvard.edu  Acknowledgements The Clinic would like to thank the many people who shared their stories for this investigation and legal memorandum. The Clinic would also like to thank the team of interpreters; without their dedication, this investigation would not have been possible. Four individuals provided invaluable expert declarations, and along with many reviewers, they greatly improved the memorandum’s many earlier iterations. For safety reasons, all of these individuals’ names do not appear.   International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School Legal Memorandum: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Eastern Myanmar iii T  ABLE OF C ONTENTS   Preface ................................................................................................................................. iv    Executive Summary ............................................................................................................. 1   Major Findings .................................................................................................................... 3    Acronyms .......................................................................................................................... 10   Maps .................................................................................................................................. 11   I. Background ................................................................................................................... 13   II. Methodology and Sources of Evidence ........................................................................ 15   III. The Myanmar Military: Command Structure and Counterinsurgency Policies ....... 21   IV. The Offensive ............................................................................................................. 30    V. Crimes .......................................................................................................................... 42    VI. Perpetrators: Units and Commanders ....................................................................... 58    VII. Conclusion and Recommended Investigation Strategies ......................................... 74     International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School Legal Memorandum: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Eastern Myanmar iv P REFACE   The International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School has worked on issues relating to Myanmar 1  for almost ten years. In 2009, we published Crimes in Burma , a report that reviewed United Nations (“UN”) reports relating to armed conflict in eastern Myanmar and concluded that there was a prima facie  case for violations of international criminal law that took place in the area. 2  In the report, we recommended the formation of a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate abuses in Myanmar. In the year following the release of Crimes in Burma , policymakers often asked us whether international crimes had occurred and whether a criminal case could be built against individual perpetrators. Although abuses occurred on both sides of the conflict, we were asked most often about the viability of cases against specific individuals in the Myanmar military.  With this in mind, we initiated our own investigation into human rights abuses associated with a Myanmar military offensive in eastern Myanmar, which began in late 2005 and continued until 2008 (“the Offensive”). From the decades of conflict in the country, we chose this particular offensive because it was one of the largest in recent memory and was widely condemned by the international community. To facilitate the assessment of the viability of a case against specific perpetrators, we narrowed the scope of our investigation by focusing on military conduct that occurred in one specific township in 2005 and 2006. Over a period of three years, we conducted eleven missions to Myanmar and along the Thailand-Myanmar border to collect evidence relating to the Offensive and to consult  with local partners. To our knowledge, our investigation is the most in-depth examination to date of international crimes committed during a military campaign in Myanmar.  We applied a framework of international criminal law and employed a research methodology appropriate for satisfying the higher evidentiary standards associated with criminal prosecution. We hoped that by demonstrating the feasibility of building a criminal case against specific perpetrators, we would help deter future abuses and promote a culture of accountability in the Myanmar military. The political landscape in Myanmar shifted significantly during the course of our investigation. More than 1,000 political prisoners were freed, many media restrictions 1  The ruling military regime changed the name of the country from “Burma” to “Myanmar” in  July 1989. 2  International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School, “Crimes in Burma,” May 2009, http://hrp.law.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Crimes-in-Burma.pdf.
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