Myanmar forces committed war crimes in the counterinsurgency that led more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee the country, an independent commission has found.
However, it said there was no evidence that genocide was planned or carried out.
The United Nations has previously described the events of 2017 as genocide, with claims that the Rohingya minority were subject to murder, rape and the burning down of their villages.
The Independent Commission of Enquiry was commissioned by Myanmar’s government and posted a statement on its Facebook page on Monday outlining its findings.
It said “on the basis of the information available… that war crimes, serious human rights violations, and violations of domestic law” had taken place between 25 August and 5 September 2017.
The commission added: “Although these serious crimes and violations were committed by multiple actors, there are reasonable grounds to believe that members of Burma’s security forces were involved.
“The killing of innocent villagers and destruction of their homes were committed by some members of the Myanmar’s security forces through disproportionate use of force during the internal armed conflict.”
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Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s top leader, strongly denied wrongdoing by government forces at a UN court in The Hague in December, calling the claims “incomplete and misleading”.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner has been widely criticised for her response to the case.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s journey from hero to the Hague
The crisis broke out in August 2017 when the military launched what it said was a clearance campaign in northern Rakhine state to hit back against attacks by Rohingya guerilla forces – sparking a mass exodus across the border to Bangladesh.
The commission that produced the report was headed by senior Philippine diplomat Rosario Manalo.
It also included retired Japanese diplomat Kenzo Oshima, Myanmar presidential adviser Aung Tun Thet and legal expert Mya Theinn.
It said its 461-page report would be handed over for investigations and possible prosecutions.
But concerns have been raised over its integrity due to the inclusion of figures close to the government and doubts over how trustworthy the information is.
The investigation, “including its methodology and operations, has been far from transparent,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch.
Mr Robertson said the conclusions released so far “are what would have been expected from a non-transparent investigation by a politically skewed set of commissioners working closely with the Myanmar government”.
“There is mention of ‘serious human rights violations’ but no attempt to address allegations of crimes against humanity,” he added.
A UN team previously conducted its own investigation and found grounds for charges of genocide, war crime and crimes against humanity.
The team were not allowed into Myanmar and mainly interviewed Rohingya refugees in crowded camps in Bangladesh.
The authors of the latest report said its information came from investigators in Rakhine state, Yangon and the Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw.
No mention is made of speaking to people in the Bangladesh camps.
The report comes ahead of a decision by the UN’s International Court of Justice, expected on Thursday, over legal action brought by Gambia – on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – alleging that genocide occurred in Myanmar and still goes on.
Myanmar is a majority Buddhist country and the Rohingya are seen by many as “Bengalis” even though their families have lived in the country for generations.
They have nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, as well as being denied freedom of movement and other rights.
Source : Sky News