• Mariam Gevorkian

Rohingya genocide being denied despite reports of massacre

Updated: Nov 23, 2018

The suffering of the Rohingya community at the hands of the Myanmar military has been a long time coming atrocity as the Islamic minority have been targeted for decades. Yet the past year has demonstrated an alarming escalation of the state led persecution.

The Canadian Envoy of Myanmar - Bob Rae, formed a report on the genocide and outlines that the challenge is figuring out how to get charges in front of an effective tribunal. Rae described the formation of his report as a gruelling emotional experience. He claimed it was clear that the atrocities were crimes against humanity with genocidal intent. His report sheds focus on the fact that China and Russia will not refer the matter to the ICC (International Criminal Court) on the premise that Myanmar is not a signatory to the Roman statute which created the ICC. Although Canada has been the most effective and active agent towards the crisis, the needs of the Rohingya people far extend the intervention provided from the international community.

Leaders such as the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who gave intense focus on whether the events reach the criteria of ethnic cleaning, are responsible for this crime not being effectively intervened against. Why is there some if any focus on technical wording? It is very clear that a genocide with attempt of ethnic cleansing is taking place.

Whilst ethnic cleansing has no legal definition, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has agreed that it appears to match other situations described as ethnic cleansing.

Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein - "situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleaning"

Whats more controversial is that a report carried out by the US Holocaust Museum Memorial and the organisation 4to5rights, gives paramount evidence of genocide. The report confirmed that 1 million people were forced to flee in the past year. The report also collected information directly from people who had fled to Bangladesh and are currently staying in refugee camps. The large influx of refugees residing in Bangladesh is also a major concern as Bangladesh is not equipped to cater the large exodus of people. Children are at risk of malnourishment whilst many others are suffering from wounds inflicted by the militants. Accounts of the horrific events equate to an attempted genocide of the Rohingya people, with militants firing shots at civilians, setting fire to villages and raping women.

The Myanmar civilian government have been criticised for its response to the genocide. Particularly the noble peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi - who is the state counsellor, has been under fire for her failure to assert her moral authority to prevent the violence. Many accuse the government of acting as a catalyst to the crimes as no prevention strategy had been put into place in previous years and even currently, little is being said about the catastrophic events. This of course has only angered Muslim populations across Asia, who have reacted with riots and civil disobedience which only intensifies the political climate in Myanmar.

Despite the wide array of evidence of the atrocities, Myanmar has rejected the UN report which accuses the military of genocide under the claim that it is one sided and biased. The army initially stated that it was only targeting Rohingya militants, however the United Nations has completely ruled this out as false.UN accuses top leaders of Myanmar militant leaders of genocide also condemning noble peace prize winner for failing to stop it.

If no sanctions are imposed upon Myanmar, this would license armies world wide to commit the same crime. Justice for victims is important but what also should be highly considered is deterring countries in the future from following these same steps.

History has alway tragically repeated itself, exemplifying that we are not putting into place effective international structures and developing as an international community towards ensuring that genocides and massacres are not committed.