Wednesday, July 24, 2024

ARGENTINA | 08-06-2023 16:03

Argentine court hears allegations of genocide against Myanmar leaders

Court hears allegations of genocide against Myanmar leaders at closed-door hearing in Buenos Aires, presenting vital evidence to ongoing judicial probe into alleged crimes perpetrated by the Asian nation's military.

Allegations of crimes against Myanmar's military leaders were heard for the first time in a court in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, as part of an ongoing judicial probe by Argentina's Judiciary, an activist told AFP.

The hearing, behind closed doors, was "a historic day for everyone in Burma," as Myanmar is also known, said Maung Tun Khin, president of the British-based Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK.

"Finally ... strong evidence" is being produced in a court of law, he said.

He did not specify the identity of who had testified, nor the facts concerned, for "security reasons." 

In 2021, Argentina's justice system, responding to a complaint, announced it was opening an investigation into alleged crimes by Myanmar soldiers against the Rohingya, under the principle of universal jurisdiction enshrined in the constitution. 

That same year, six Rohingya women, living as refugees in Bangladesh, had participated in a virtual hearing before an Argentine court, citing sexual assaults and the death of relatives as a result of regime repression.

According to Maung Tun Khin, "very important evidence is being produced," by the hearings.

Argentina's courts have in the past agreed to examine overseas cases under the principle of universal jurisdiction, in particular crimes committed under the fascist regime of Francisco Franco in Spain.

The principle makes it possible to prosecute the alleged perpetrators of some of the most serious crimes, regardless of their nationality or where the crimes were committed.

About 750,000 members of the Rohingya community fled to Bangladesh in 2017 from a crackdown by the Myanmar military, which is now the subject of separate proceedings before the International Criminal Court and for "acts of genocide" before the International Court of Justice.

"Argentina is on the other side of the world from Myanmar but even here the Burmese military cannot escape justice," said Maung Tun Khin.



* This article was amended on June 13, 2023.

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