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War crime raps filed vs Myanmar military before DOJ

CITIZENS of Chin State in Myanmar yesterday filed war crimes complaint before the Department of Justice, naming military officers of Myanmar as the respondents.

In a press briefing, lawyer Rommel Bagares said Manila has an obligation as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to pursue the case and bring justice to the victims.

“As part of the Asean, the Philippines has a responsibility to assist our neighboring countries, like the Myanmar people, in seeking justice,” Bagares, who represented the five complainants in the case, said.

“This is the first time that such a case has been brought before the Philippines,” he added, acknowledging the novelty of the case.

The complaint named at least 10 military officers of Tatmadaw, the official name of Myanmar’s armed forces, for violating Republic Act 9851, or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity.

Named respondents were Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, Vung Suan Thang, Lt. General Tay Zar Kyaw, Maj. Gen. Phyo Thant, Maj. Gen. Than Htike, Brig. General Myo Htut Hlaing, Col.S aw Thun, Lt. Col. Myo Zin Tun, and Major Nay Myo Oo.

Among the war crimes allegedly committed by the officers include murder, torture, burning of houses and churches and blocking of relief supplies to communities affected by military operations.

The complainants, according to Bagares, fled Myanmar and sought refuge in the Philippines.

He added they are calling on Philippine authorities to assume universal jurisdiction of the alleged war crimes committed in Myanmar by the Tatmadaw.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the DOJ will study the complaint if it is sufficient in form and substance.

Remulla acknowledged this was the first time that such a case was filed in the country for alleged violations that occurred in another nation.

He said that under humanitarian law, every state has the responsibility to ensure that every right of an individual is protected.

Violence and armed conflict intensified in Myanmar after the military coup that ousted the democratically-led government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi two years ago.

The Myanmar military detained