Why did the Burmese go to sue their own country’s soldiers in Germany? Talk to Fortify Rights, the agency behind the lawsuit.

16 Myanmar nationals file a complaint against German prosecutors to charge their soldiers for atrocities. contrary to international criminal law This international criminal process is still not well known in Thailand. Today (January 24, 2023) TODAY spoke with Patrick Pongsatorn, senior advocacy expert at the organization. Fortify Rights (Fortify Rights) who worked with all 16 plaintiffs in filing this lawsuit.

Patrick: “Today, Fortify Rights And 16 Myanmar citizens of various ethnic backgrounds filed criminal charges. We actually filed a complaint last Friday, but today is the day we announce that we have filed a complaint with the Federal Attorney General of Germany. request an investigation into whether Myanmar generals have committed atrocity such as murder, rape, detention, torture and other international crimes. Anyone who breaks these laws can be prosecuted. In our case, there are many cases that can be considered serious crimes. Therefore, according to the principle of universal jurisdiction (Universal Jurisdiction) that assumes that no matter where the crime is committed and if that crime reaches the threshold of serious crime and affects humanity The German authorities can open a case based on the evidence we have given them.”

Patrick Pongsathorn, senior advocacy specialist Fortify Rights

Criminal cases that are normally tried in international courts are: genocide war crimes crimes against humanity (The charges include murder, rape, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, enslavement, sex trafficking, torture, etc., which must be systematic and extensive.) when these crimes occur We often think of the International Criminal Court. the International Criminal Court established by the Treaty of Rome. How is this case different from the International Criminal Court?

Pongsakorn: “The two organizations have similar principles, but the difference is that The Rome Treaty recognized the International Criminal Court to open cases against any State. That State must first recognize or relate in any way to the Treaty of Rome. Now Myanmar has not ratified the Rome Treaty to join the International Criminal Court. Therefore, in the case of committing a serious crime as we have requested, it cannot be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court. So we choose to use this method instead after finding many alternatives. Let’s see. It was decided that Germany was where we would apply. Because we believe it is probably the best option to seek liability for the crimes we have discussed.”

TODAY: How many generals will this request for prosecution cover?

PATRICK: I can’t say how many people will be identified as perpetrators, but I’d say there are certainly a number and it will reach high-ranking officials of the Myanmar Armed Forces.

TODAY: Well, some of them are already banned from the European Union. If there is a lawsuit or a judgment is made, what will be the result?

Patrick: “Yes, many of them have already been banned from the European Union. We welcome that decision, but what will result from this lawsuit is First, it will record whether these people or their subordinate forces had committed this crime. Second, will the situation change? It is possible that one day we may see members of the Burmese army answering questions about these crimes in German courts. This kind of thing is very important. I would like to say that it is not only important to find someone to blame in the big picture. But it’s also important to the 16 plaintiffs we work with in this case. They want to see justice. seeing people being held accountable for crimes they witnessed or were victims of.”

After the 2021 coup, violence erupted across all regions in Myanmar. A Chin woman, a plaintiff, told Fortify Rights, “They never thought we were human. Treat us like animals or objects.”

TODAY: In addition to gaining fairness in terms of feelings, If there is a trial of this case and there is a decision, what will be the concrete impact? or on the world stage

Patrick: “We hope to capture the attention and raise awareness of what is happening in Myanmar. Right now there’s what’s going on in Afghanistan, in Ukraine. The world’s attention is quite focused. But what happened in Myanmar is also a very big matter. Millions of people had to relocate. thousands were killed Tens of thousands of people were imprisoned for unexplained matters. So we think this situation is also a situation that the world should pay attention to as well. It is for this reason that we request that this lawsuit be filed. But besides that, we need someone to take the blame. We want people who commit crimes to suffer the consequences of their actions, which are very, very serious, including murder, rape and other atrocities. We and the victims want to be held accountable for this.”

Press conference on filing complaints in Germany organized by Fortify Rights at the Association of Foreign Correspondents in Thailand. Bangkok, January 24, 2023

TODAY: If the German Attorney General accepts the case How can the investigation process be carried out if not allowed to enter Myanmar?

Patrick: “We have gathered evidence for the German prosecutor along with the complaint. In total, the petition has more than 200 pages of text and more than 1,000 pages of annexes for the prosecutor to review and analyze. We also work with other organizations and individuals to testify against officials in Germany as well. Therefore, the German Competent Officer will have many resources to consider. Of course, with the current situation, we may not be able to go to Myanmar to inspect. But the situation will change in the future.

In the past, decisions have been made under international jurisdiction. One of the comparable cases is that of conflict-affected Syria. We’ve seen cases of authoritarian leaders in Africa. In South America, he was responsible for the crimes he committed in his own country. We know this process will take a long time. But hopefully one day we will reach our goal of finding responsible people through this process.”

The petition for prosecution covers interviews with more than 1,000 victims who survived Myanmar Army operations.

Out of 16 cases who are co-plaintiffs More than half of these are Rohingya victims of the genocide and Rohingya cleansing operations in 2016-17, while the remainder are survivors of post-coup violence in other regions. There are ethnic Burmese, Chin, Karen, Mon, Karenni, all from diverse backgrounds: farmers, students, academics, human rights defenders, businessmen, former village headmen and domestic workers. All were both victims and eyewitnesses to the crimes committed. Many have fled abroad and settled in countries around the world, including Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Germany and the United States. The filing of this lawsuit was assisted by the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, based in Germany.

Tags: Burmese sue countrys soldiers Germany Talk Fortify Rights agency lawsuit

NEXT Air quality today, Bangkok is bad, PM2.5, blowing in 70 areas