The Argentine justice agreed to open an investigation into the complaints against Burmese military for war crimes against the Rohingya Muslim minority, under the principle of universal justice.
Argentina “is authorized to continue with the investigation, even though the events occurred in Myanmar (Burma) by virtue of the receipt of the principle of universal jurisdiction that has been constitutionally enshrined,” said the resolution of Chamber 1 of the Criminal and Correctional Chamber Federal of Argentina.
The decision of the Chamber revokes a ruling of first instance of the Argentine judge María Servini de Cubría that had dismissed the petition to open an investigation.
The case had been received at the end of 2019 by the Argentine courts after a presentation of Maung Tun Khin, Chairman of the UK-based Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK).
Rohingya refugees escape to an island in Bangladesh. Photo: Reuters
The attorney for the prosecution is Tomás Ojea Quintana, who was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Burma. At that time he had direct contact with the Rohingya, hence he agreed to represent this cause in his country, thanks in particular “to the principle of universal jurisdiction. This is the principle that justifies the case in Argentina, “he explained.
“Argentina, especially due to its own process of recovering justice and memory, after the military dictatorship it suffered, was very experienced in this type of trial and then there were legal conditions to file a complaint,” said Ojea.
Now Argentine courts must conduct an investigation into the treatment of the Burmese Muslim minority Rohingya.
The case points to the military, and in particular the current head of the junta that leads the dictatorship in Burma, Min Aung Hlaing.
Rohingya, on a boat, flee Myanmar. Photo: Reuters
They are the main responsible for “the crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, which translated into the internal legislation of Argentina are the crimes of rape plus group rapes, murders, torture and forced disappearance whose penalty in Argentina is the maximum penalty of life imprisonment”Says the lawyer specialized in human rights.
“Min Aung Hlaing was the one who led the clean-up operation in Rakhine province (where the Rohingya are from).”
The complainants have presented the testimony of six Rohingya women from Myanmar (formerly Burma), refugees in Bangladesh. One of the complainants stated thate all “had been sexually assaulted and that a large part of his relatives had died as a result of the repression suffered “on August 27, 2017, the court recalled.
“These women lived in the village known as Tula Toli. They were all victims of group rapes, ”says Tomás Ojea. “In many cases their husbands were killed. That is one of the situations that we will quickly accredit ”.
Some 750,000 Rohingya fled the Burmese state of Rakhine (west) in August 2017, following an army crackdown in the Buddhist-majority country.
The International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court are also investigating Burmese leaders for violations of the human rights of the Rohingya.
RFI with AFP information