A team from the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s office is visiting camps for the persecuted Rohingya in Bangladesh, the office confirmed to Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
On the purposes of the visit, an email statement from the ICC office said the team will work in the context of its ongoing preliminary examinations concerning the situation — the Rohingya crisis — in Bangladesh and neighboring Myanmar, which the persecuted Muslim Rohingya fled.
“A preliminary examination is not an investigation,” said the statement. “Such visits in the context of preliminary examinations are standard practice, and the delegation will not engage in any evidence collection in relation to any alleged crimes.”
The independent and impartial preliminary examination of the situation in Bangladesh and Myanmar is ongoing and following its normal course, it said.
About Myanmar’s military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims since Aug. 25, 2017, however, an ICC preliminary report published last December said: “During the course of these [military] operations more than 40 percent of all villages in northern Rakhine State were reportedly partially or totally destroyed and it is estimated that by September 2018, over 725,000 Rohingya had fled to the neighbouring state of Bangladesh.”
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.”
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and young children – brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.
In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity and genocidal intent.