As part of its continuing outreach efforts which unfold in the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar took part in two civil society virtual events held at the end of August 2020 to commemorate the third anniversary of the 2017 exodus of Rohingya refugees from Rakhine State.

The first event was a panel discussion on “Justice and Accountability for the Rohingya”, organised by Legal Action Worldwide, Shanti Mohila and the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK.

Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the Myanmar Mechanism, joined Shanchita Haque, Chargé d’affaires and Deputy Permanent Representative to Permanent Mission of Bangladesh in Geneva; Professor Payam Akhavan, ICJ Counsel to The Gambia and ICC counsel to Bangladesh; Hasina Begum, Rohingya survivor advocate and member of Shanti Mohila; and Tun Khin, President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation, UK. 

During this discussion, Mr. Koumjian provided updates on the work of the Mechanism, including how it has begun the process of collecting evidence from various sources, and analysing and preserving it in a way that can be used by courts now and in the future. He emphasized that the Mechanism depends on the cooperation of States, including Myanmar, and other entities in order for it to be able to do its work.

The second event was a worldwide multilingual online rally organised by the Free Rohingya Coalition. Over forty human rights activists, academics, international law experts and journalists showed their solidarity with the Rohingya community in all parts of the world.

“We are marking three years since the events that began on the 25th of August 2017 that saw hundreds of thousands of individuals flee their homes in Rakhine state—most of them to go live in refugee camps abroad, some of them displaced from their homes inside Myanmar,” Mr. Koumijan said. “It’s very important to remember those people because what happened to them goes on.”

“The international criminal justice process is something that is very complex,” he added. “It normally is very slow. It can take years to accomplish international justice. We understand that while a few years is not much in international criminal justice, for those that are in refugee camps, for those that are forced out of their homes, three years is a very long time. We understand that they want to go home. We’ll do what we can to contribute to eventual justice for those who suffered from these crimes.”