BANGKOK (AP) — A United Nations fact-finding mission urged Tuesday that countries cut off all business with Myanmar’s military as part of efforts to hold the army accountable for human rights abuses.
The independent investigators, working under a mandate from the UN Human Rights Council, said in a statement that there has been no progress toward resolving the crisis over Myanmar’s mostly Muslim Rohingya minority, more than 1 million of whom have fled military "clearance operations” in the northwest Rakhine region.
"The situation is at a total standstill,” said Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.
Myanmar authorities have razed deserted Rohingya villages and members of the minority remaining in the country live in displacement camps and in fear of further military reprisals.
"Due to the gravity of the past and continuing violations, attention must be given to the political, economic and financial ties of the Myanmar military — to identify who and what should be targeted so we can cut off the money supply as a means of increasing the pressure and reducing the violence,” Christopher Sidoti, a member of the mission, said in the statement.
The mission found that the military has committed atrocities against many ethnic groups living within Myanmar. It also faulted armed ethnic groups for committing human rights abuses.
UN officials and others have likened the actions to ethnic cleansing, or even genocide.
The Fact-Finding Mission is to hand its findings to a new group of the Human Right Council, the Independent Investigative Mechanism on Myanmar, in September. That organization was set up to handle criminal prosecution of violations of international law.
The UN and independent rights advocates want governments to do more to hold the military accountable.
Myanmar’s military has holding companies in several major civilian economic sectors, and in some cases, Western countries allow business to be done with companies in which the army holds a stake, contributing to its revenues.
China is also by far the top supplier of arms to Myanmar, according to statistics published by the Swedish International Peace Research Institute. Russia and Belarus, also without sanctions against Myanmar, were the second and third biggest suppliers of arms from 2014 to 2018, according to the institute.