Human Lives Human Rights: The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar works on to collect, preserve and analyze evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations committed in the country.
The mechanism was created two years ago to prepare the files that can facilitate criminal prosecutions in national, regional and international tribunals.
The mechanism has faced new challenges and opportunities due to the military coup and the subsequent events that have occurred including rising violence following the military takeover on 1 February.
The coup itself is not within this mandate. However, being aware of the history of political violence in Myanmar, concerns are how they would be watching and collecting evidence if such crimes occur.
The mechanism has received more than 200,000 communications since the coup, and has collected more than 1.5 million items of evidence, such as photographs, videos, testimonies and social media posts.
“We do feel now having observed the events and collected preliminary evidence that the facts show a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population amounting to crimes against humanity,” Nicholas Koumjian, one of the members of the mechanism said.
“So, we’ll be collecting and attempting to verify that preliminary evidence and that has also created many opportunities for us because we receive so many communications, particularly from people inside Myanmar urging us to accomplish some type of accountability, asking us to bring people to account and end the violence that’s happening there.”
The mechanism noted certain patterns in the violence, appeared to be a widespread and systemic attack on civilians, given that members had no access to Myanmar.
During the first six weeks of the coup, security forces took a “measured response” towards demonstrations.
However, later there was an “uptick in violence”, with more violent methods used to suppress protestors, and which was taking place in different areas at the same time, “indicating it would be logical to conclude this was from a central policy.”
Additionally, particular groups such as journalists, medical workers and political opponents, were also being targeted for arrest and detention, without due legal process.