FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 17, 2018
[New York] – The Global Justice Center (GJC) released a report today providing the first comprehensive legal analysis of the gender-based crimes committed against Rohingya women and girls in Rakhine State, amounting to crimes against humanity and genocide.
Too often, the female victims of atrocity crimes are overlooked, their experiences lost in a narrative of violence centered around mass killings. This report highlights the central role that gender played in the design and commission of the atrocities carried out against the Rohingya. The Burmese military has a long history of using rape as a weapon against ethnic minorities, and the assault on the Rohingya was no exception—women and girls were systematically singled out for brutal rape and sexual violence. As one survivor testified, “I was lucky I was only raped by three men.” Accountability proceedings—whether at the domestic or international level—must take into account these gendered experiences.
The campaign of widespread, violent attacks against the Rohingya has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in memory, carried out in the context of decades of persecution and discrimination. The army destroyed hundreds of Rohingya villages, massacred thousands of civilians, and forced over 700,000 Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh. Sexual violence was widespread and methodical: 52% of Rohingya women interviewed by the Office of the High United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights reported experiencing rape or other forms of sexual violence. Mass rape, where soldiers grouped victims and proceeded to gang rape them, have been reported. Sexual violence was often combined with other forms of brutal violence, including beatings, mutilation of the breasts and genitalia, and were often conducted in public, in front of family members and other members of the community.
“The international community has, at long-last, recognized the imperative to ensure justice for the crimes committed by Burmese Security Forces,” says Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan. “Justice for these crimes is impossible within Burma’s domestic system.”
Last week, the International Criminal Court recognized their jurisdiction over crimes against the Rohingya that continued into Bangladesh—including the crimes against humanity of deportation, persecution, and inhumane acts. This landmark decision potentially opens the door to the prosecution of other crimes against humanity, as well as genocide, where elements have continued across the border into Bangladesh. These continuing elements include the physical and mental trauma caused by rape and other acts of sexual violence.
Over the next few weeks, the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly will both consider the establishment of a mechanism to collect and document evidence of crimes against the Rohingya. As the international community begins to develop mechanisms for justice and accountability—whether through international investigations and evidence collection, at the International Criminal Court, or in third-party states—it is essential that a strong gender perspective and analysis in incorporated at all levels of the process, from investigation, to prosecution, to redress, and to reparations.
View a copy of the report: Discrimination to Destruction: A Legal Analysis of Gender Crimes Against the Rohingya
For more information contact:
The Global Justice Center (GJC) is an international human rights organization dedicated to advancing gender equality through the rule of law. We combine advocacy with legal analysis, working to expose and root out the patriarchy inscribed in so many international laws. Our projects forge legal precedents in venues that have the greatest potential for global impact, such as the United Nations Security Council, and in places with the most potential for systemic change, like conflict and post-conflict situations and transitional democracies. We believe that enforcing treaties and international human rights laws can be a catalyst for radical change, moving these hard-won rights from paper to practice.