Watch Gary Lane's Where in The World interview with Nicolee Ambrose to learn more about Myanmar government atrocities against Rohingya Muslims and Kachin Christians.
Members of an Independent International Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar have concluded that the government has committed "crimes against humanity" that "warrant criminal investigation and prosecution."
In response, a spokesman for a coalition of American faith leaders says tough action is needed against the Myanmar government to prevent genocide.
"This is a really important time to fix our US policy on this situation, to reverse those sanctions that Obama lifted, " said Nicolee Ambrose of the Faith Coalition to Stop Genocide in Burma.
"We as the US should not allow genocide. We should ask for full sanctions with the exception of food and medicine on Burma—today we call it Myanmar."
Next week, UN investigators will officially present their findings on Myanmar to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Their 20-page report was released August 27 and provides evidence that serious violations of international law have been committed. The report states that government security forces known as the Tatmadaw committed crimes against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Christians in Kachin, and Shan ethnics in Shan State.
Also, the Mission found evidence that the Tatmadaw conducted "clearance operations"—by destroying and burning Rohingya villages throughout Rakhine State. Violence and persecution against the Rohingya caused more than 700,000 of them to flee Myanmar in 2017. Most are now living in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh.
The UN investigators report that "rape and other forms of sexual violence were perpetrated (by the Tatmadaw) on a massive scale…mothers were gang raped in front of young children, who were severely injured and in some instances killed. Women and girls 13 to 25 years of age were targeted, including pregnant women."
Investigators interviewed 875 victims and eyewitnesses. They examined satellite imagery, photographs, documents and videos. The fact finders found many child victims who were "subjected to, and witnessed serious human rights violations."
They included "killing, maiming and sexual violence. Children were killed in front of their parents, and young girls were targeted for sexual violence. Of approximately 500,000 Rohingya children in Bangladesh, many fled alone after their parents were killed or after being separated from their families. The Mission met many children with visible injuries matching accounts of being shot, stabbed or burned."
The UN report concludes enough evidence exists to bring top Tatmadaw commanders to trial on charges of "genocidal intent." Genocide is defined as a deliberate attempt to destroy in whole or part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.
In the past, the Myanmar government has responded to similar charges saying that it has only acted militarily against Rohingya rebels and other ethnic militias in order to defend the Burmese nation.
For years, ethnic militias have fought for autonomy against successive Burmese governments which they say have only persecuted and oppressed Christians, Muslims and other groups in Myanmar.
"I think there's a big difference between defending yourself and genocide," said Ambrose.