The family members of those killed or maimed by the Myanmar junta’s security forces have urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to hold the military leadership to account for its actions and prosecute those responsible.
Families of the victims of the brutal crackdown by Myanmar’s military urged the Netherlands-based court to investigate those responsible for the death or dismemberment of their loved ones which they say fall under the court’s jurisdiction according to its founding treaty, the Rome Statute.
Under the statute, the ICC can accept cases related to four main crimes—genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.
The actions by the junta would most likely fall under crimes against humanity—which include murder, rape, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, and torture as part of a large-scale attack against any civilian population.
On Feb. 01, the military overthrew Myanmar’s democratically elected government, claiming voter fraud had led to a landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party in the country’s November 2020 election.
The junta has yet to provide evidence of its claims and has violently suppressed nationwide demonstrations calling for a return to civilian rule, killing nearly 900 people over the past five months.
Before the ICC will investigate a case, the Office of the Prosecutor must determine whether there is sufficient evidence of crimes of sufficient gravity falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction, whether there are genuine national proceedings, and whether opening an investigation would serve the interests of justice and of the victims.
After gathering evidence and identifying a suspect, the prosecution requests that the ICC judges issue an arrest warrant or summons against a suspect and—based on summations presented by the prosecution, the Defense, and the Legal representative of victims—the judges decide if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.
Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) is currently gathering evidence of crimes perpetrated by the junta that it plans to present to the ICC, although the country is not a signatory to the Rome Statute or a member of the court.
Speaking to RFA’s Myanmar Service, a family member of Kyaw Min Latt, who was shot dead by the military on March 27 in Tanintharyi region’s Dawei township, said the military should be prosecuted for the extrajudicial killings of innocent civilians. A video of the killing recorded on a nearby CCTV camera has since been widely circulated on social media.
“I’m calling for action … [the junta]would surely arrest me if I tried to take action myself,” the family member said. “They are killing us as easily as if they were shooting a chicken or a bird on the road.”
Htoo Myat Win, 13, was also killed on March 27 when a bullet fired by the military entered his home in Sagaing region’s Shwebo township.
“I am sure my son was shot from the roof of a nearby building, but it is not possible at this time to find out who the real killer was,” his father told RFA.
“The army is fully responsible for these crimes. [My son’s death] didn’t make any sense at all. If action is taken against them, I’ll be happy. It can be done.” (Source: RFA)