Genocide in Rakhine State
Rohingya Crisis Could destablish the Entire Region – says United Nations Secretary General
Dr. Mozammel Haque
Rohingya crisis could destablish the entire region – says United Nations Secretary General on the basis of the reports, information received from the different agencies of the United Nations. Though the situation in Myanmar and the condition of the Rohingyas deserve to be taken attention but the UN Security Council has failed to speak out. It is reported that two human rights groups are accusing the UN Security Council of ignoring the “ethnic cleansing” taking place on a large scale against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International representatives said at a joint press conference at UN headquarters that the UN’s most powerful body has failed to speak out and immediately demand an end to the violence. About 370,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh since Aug. 25 and thousands are arriving every day. Louis Charbonneau, the UN director for Human Rights Watch, said, “This is an international peace and security crisis” and there is no excuse for the Security Council “sitting on its hands.”
The United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, said the government clearance operations in Rakhine “risked” ethnic cleansing. A Change.org petition to revoke Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel peace prize had reached 390,000 signatures by Friday.
Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
The attacks on Rohingya villages on 25 August, 2017 appear to many to have been a systematic effort to drive them out. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described it as ethnic cleansing. The UN human rights chief has described the systematic attacks against the Rohingya minority by the security forces of Myanmar as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” Amnesty International regional Director James Gomez accused Suu Kyi of “a mix of untruths and victim-blaming.” “There is overwhelming evidence that security forces are engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing,” Gomez said. The top UN human rights official, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, said. "The situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."
Heads of States of different countries also said there is genocide in Rakhine state. French President Emmanuel Macron said attacks on Myanmar’s Rohingya minority amounted to “genocide.” Macron said in an interview with the French TV channel TMC. Macron’s use of the word “genocide” marks his strongest verbal attack yet on the military drive against the Rohingya. France will work with other members of the UN Security Council for a condemnation of “this genocide which is unfolding, this ethnic cleansing,” The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a statement: “You watched the situation that Myanmar and Muslims are in. You saw how villages have been burned … Humanity remained silent to the massacre in Myanmar.” Turkish President Erdoğan has accused Myanmar of “genocide” against the Rohingya Muslim minority, who have fled in the tens of thousands across the border into Bangladesh to escape ethnic cleansing. There is a genocide there,” Erdoğan said in a speech in Istanbul during the Islamic Eid al-Adha feast. “Those who close their eyes to this genocide perpetuated under the cover of democracy are its collaborators.”
His Holiness Pope Francis said that he is following the “sad news of the religious persecution of Rohingya community… he asked that the members of the ethnic group be given full rights.”
Bangladesh's Foreign Minister said “genocide" is being waged in the country's violence-hit Rakhine state. "The international community is saying it is genocide. We also say it is a genocide," AH Mahmood Ali told reporters. “The international community is saying it is a genocide. We also say it is a genocide," AH Mahmood Ali told reporters.
UN Secretary General
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, is pushing hard for concerted action and warns of the risk of ethnic cleansing (several Nobel peace prize laureates say that point) has already been reached. But Myanmar has said openly that it is working with China and Russia to prevent a Security Council rebuke. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, warned that the violence in the country verged on ethnic cleansing and could destabilise the wider region.
United Nations Report
United Nations Report released this year detailed what happened to those that stayed. The report described mass killings and gang rapes by the armed forces in actions that “very likely” amounted to crimes against humanity. A security crackdown launched last October in Maungdaw led to the U.N. report on human rights violations by security forces that indicated crimes against humanity. Al-Jazeera reported, “The U.N. documented mass gang-rape, killings -- including infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances. Rohingya representatives have said approximately 400 people have been slain during the crackdown.”
While writing petitions to stop the genocide by Hussein Mohamed and Najma Maxamed of London UK, said, “Upon the documentations of the crime against humanity being conducted in Myanmar by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in a ‘flash report’ which was released on 3 February 2017, no serious action seems to have been taken to end this genocide since then. This is regardless of the fact that another recent report made on the 30th August 2017 seems to have found that indeed the violence being shown towards the Rohingya population in Rakhine State throughout this protracted crackdown could “very likely” amount to crimes against humanity.”
“According to OHCHR more than half of the women its human rights team interviewed reported having suffered rape or other forms of sexual violence. Many other interviewees reported witnessing killings, including of family members and having family who were missing.”
United Nations Human Rights
The top UN human rights official has urged Myanmar to end "brutal security operation" against Rohingyas in Rakhine state, calling it "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing". Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva said, "I call on the government to end its current cruel military operation, with accountability for all violations that have occurred, and to reverse the pattern of severe and widespread discrimination against the Rohingya population." Zeid also said. "The situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."
“A spokeswoman for the UN high commissioner for refugees, Vivian Tan, told Agence France-Presse, “The numbers are so alarming. It really means we have to step up our response and that the situation in Myanmar has to be addressed urgently.”
It is clear by now that there have been serious human rights laws both local and international that have been violated by the Myanmar government through its security forces. It is also clear that these violations which have resulted in approximately more than tens of thousands of people murdered from a specific community alongside the displacement of even more people certainly amounts to genocide as opposed to just being termed as being “very likely” to amount to crimes against humanity.
OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation)
The world’s largest Muslim body, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), condemns abuses of Rohingya in Myanmar. It was urging Myanmar to allow in UN monitors so they can investigate what it alleges is systematic brutality against the Rohingya ethnic minority. “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation issued its statement Tuesday after an emergency meeting on the sidelines of a technology conference in Astana, Kazakhstan.”
Heads of States
Besides the United Nations and its different organs and agencies, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the heads of states of different countries such as the United States, France, Iran and Saudi Arabia, were concerned and wanted the United Nations to take immediate action.
United States of America
US President Donald Trump wants the United Nations Security Council to take “strong and swift action” to end the violence, Vice President Mike Pence said. Diplomats say the Security Council could consider adopting a formal statement if the situation does not improve, but China and Russia are unlikely to agree to stronger action that would require the adoption of a resolution they could veto, it is reported in Arab News.
The US has dispatched an envoy to Myanmar to express its “grave concern” with the violence in Rakhine. Patrick Murphy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asia, will meet with government leaders and travel to the state capital of Rakhine but not the conflict zone further north, the official said.
French President Emmanuel Macron said attacks on Myanmar’s Rohingya minority amounted to “genocide.” France will work with other members of the UN Security Council for a condemnation of “this genocide which is unfolding, this ethnic cleansing,” Macron said in an interview with the French TV channel TMC. Macron’s use of the word “genocide” marks his strongest verbal attack yet on the military drive against the Rohingya. “We must condemn the ethnic purification which is under way and act,” Macron said. “Asking for the violence to end, asking for humanitarian access... progressively enables an escalation” under UN auspices, Macron said. “When the UN issues a condemnation, there are consequences which can provide a framework for intervention under the UN,” Macron said.
Saudi Arabia said the issue of the Muslim minority in Myanmar is a top concern for the Kingdom and calls on the international community to intensify its efforts to stop the apparently systematic ethnic cleaning campaign against the Rohingya Muslims.
It also stressed the need to intervene to find a humanitarian solution to protect the Rohingya minority from acts of violence and collective punishment they experience.
This came in the Kingdom’s speech before the 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) during the interactive dialogue with the independent internationally mandated fact-finding mission on Myanmar.
The Kingdom’s speech was delivered by Saudi Ambassador at the UN in Geneva Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al-Wasel. Al-Wasel strongly condemned the recent violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority. He stressed the Kingdom’s position that the UNHRC should address these violations and alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims and compel Myanmar to respect its international obligations to promote and protect human rights without discrimination based on race, sex or religion. “Myanmar is asked to cooperate fully with the fact-finding mission to look at human rights violations there and to promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence in all sectors of the state,” Al-Wasel said.
Iran’s Supreme Leader has strongly condemned the killing of Muslims in Myanmar by the government. It is reported in Arab News, “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the killing of Rohingya Muslims is a political disaster for Myanmar because it is being carried out by a government led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, whom he called a “brutal woman.” He urged Muslim countries to take practical steps to stop the violence and said they should “increase political, economic and commercial pressures on the government of Myanmar.”
Human Rights Groups
The Human Rights Groups are very much critical of the Myanmar’s brutalities on Rohingyas. “The government has to stop this offensive,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “It has to allow humanitarian assistance and let journalists into this area. We have to actually see what’s happened because quite clearly human rights violations have taken place.”
An Amnesty International report this month, based on extensive interviews with Rohingya as well as analysis of satellite imagery, claimed that actions by Myanmar’s military may constitute crimes against humanity.
Nobel Prize Laureate
More than a dozen fellow Nobel laureates have criticised Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, for a bloody military crackdown on minority Rohingya people, warning of a tragedy “amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”. It is reported in The Guardian, “The open letter to the UN Security Council from a group of 23 activists, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai, warned that the army offensive had killed of hundreds of people, including children, and left women raped, houses burned and many civilians arbitrarily arrested. It was delivered as Bangladesh announced around 50,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the violence across its border.”
“Access for humanitarian aid organisations has been almost completely denied, creating an appalling humanitarian crisis in an area already extremely poor,” reads the letter, whose signatories include current and former political and business leaders and campaigners such as Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. “Some international experts have warned of the potential for genocide. It has all the hallmarks of recent past tragedies – Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia, Kosovo,” the letter reads. “If we fail to take action, people may starve to death if they are not killed with bullets.”
But the signatories to the letter said the army’s response had been “grossly disproportionate”. “It would be one thing to round up suspects, interrogate them and put them on trial,” the letter said. “It is quite another to unleash helicopter gunships on thousands of ordinary civilians and to rape women and throw babies into a fire.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
The Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu joined the growing list of voices calling on Aung San Suu Kyi to do more to protect Myanmar’s persecuted Muslim minority. He issued heartfelt letter to fellow peace prize winner calling for her to speak up for Rohingya in Myanmar. He has called on Aung San Suu Kyi to end military-led operations against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. It is reported in The Guardian, “The 85-year old archbishop said the “unfolding horror” and “ethnic cleansing” in the country’s Rahkine region had forced him to speak out against the woman he admired and considered “a dearly beloved sister”. “I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness,” he wrote in a letter posted on social media. “For years I had a photograph of you on my desk to remind me of the injustice and sacrifice you endured out of your love and commitment for Myanmar’s people. You symbolised righteousness.”
“Your emergence into public life allayed our concerns about violence being perpetrated against members of the Rohingya. But what some have called ‘ethnic cleansing’ and others ‘a slow genocide’ has persisted – and recently accelerated. “It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country,” said the anti-apartheid activist. “If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep,” reported by Naaman Zhou and Michael Safi in The Guardian.
Tutu used his open letter to urge Aung San Suu Kyi to “As we witness the unfolding horror we pray for you to be courageous and resilient again,” he said. “We pray for you to speak out for justice, human rights and the unity of your people. We pray for you to intervene in the escalating crisis and guide your people back towards the path of righteousness again.
“Every time I see the news, my heart breaks at the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar,” Yousafzai, who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, said on Twitter. “Over the last several years I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment. I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same.” The Malaysian foreign minister, Anifah Aman, said: “Very frankly, I am dissatisfied with Aung San Suu Kyi,” he told Agence France-Presse. “She stood up for the principles of human rights. Now it seems she is doing nothing.”
Peaceful protest and demonstration
Besides the reaction of the UN agencies, Human Rights groups and the Presidents of USA, France, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey against the Myanmar’s brutalities towards the Rohingya Muslims; there were peaceful demonstrations, protests and petitions in different countries.
In Oxford, Oxford Information Centre organized a peaceful demonstration in support of Myanmar Rohingya people. Sheikh Ramzy said: "We calling on our government to save the Burma's Rohingya community from further persecution, ethnic cleansing and genocide, and exodus. UN described Rohingya Muslim as the most 'persecuted minority on earth', Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim community have been victims of mass murder - including of women and children - rape and torcher. Burma's de facto political leader, the Nobel laureate Aung Sun Suu Kyi, who herself was feted in our Parliament for upholding human rights, now dehumanizes the community by denying them their right to be citizens of their own land.
In South Asia, Massive protests are reported in many countries, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India among others against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (September 2017). There were protesters in Kolkata, India, burning an image of Aung San Suu Kyi. This time around violence seems to have been triggered due to the attack by militants (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) on police and military posts. United Nations has said that the extent of violence indicates that it is crime against humanity.
Tens of thousands of people rallied in the capital of Russia’s mainly Muslim republic of Chechnya in support of the Rohingya. The Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, told the crowd in Grozny that the world was watching in silence while the Rohinghya were “torn to pieces, burnt on fires and drowned”.
UN Aid Agencies
In spite of all these protests, petitions and reactions to the Myanmar’s brutalities towards Rohingya Muslims, Myanmar government has not stopped its ethnic cleansing. Rather Myanmar has blocked all United Nations aid agencies from delivering vital supplies of food, water and medicine to thousands of desperate civilians at the centre of a bloody military campaign against the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority, the Guardian has learned. The office of the UN resident coordinator in Myanmar said deliveries had been suspended “because the security situation and government field-visit restrictions rendered us unable to distribute assistance”. “The UN is in close contact with authorities to ensure that humanitarian operations can resume as soon as possible,” the office said.
It is also reported, “The UN World Food Programme said it also had to suspend distributions to other parts of the state, leaving 250,000 people without regular access to food. Sixteen major non-governmental organisations including Oxfam and Save the Children have also complained that the government has restricted access to the conflict area. Humanitarian organisations are “deeply concerned about the fate of thousands of people affected by the ongoing violence” in northern Rakhine, said Pierre Peron, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Myanmar.”
However, on the other hand, Muslim countries have taken decision to send humanitarian aid to the worst affected Rohingyas in Rakhine state. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered the payment of $15 million aid for the Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar as a result of genocide and torture. The announcement came in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following a meeting of the Saudi Cabinet, which was briefed by Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah, general supervisor of Riyadh-based King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid on the situation in Myanmar with the Muslim minority Rohingya refugees that have been forced to flee.
Indonesia has despatched from Jakarta two Hercules aircraft carrying humanitarian aid for the Rohingya community in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. “The two planes carry tents, water tanks, blankets, family kits, five tons of instant food and nearly a ton of medicines,” said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. The aid will be handed to Myanmar’s government in Yangon for distribution. Nugroho said Indonesia previously sent eight sortie missions to help the relief effort in Bangladesh.
Former Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told Arab News: “The developments in Myanmar, the plight of the Rohingya, have moved the conscience of nations and people throughout the world.” The crisis constitutes a litmus test for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to present itself as part of the solution, said Natalegawa, who dealt with the issue during his 2009-2014 tenure, and visited Rakhine in 2013.
Turkey has called upon the Bangladesh government to open its doors to Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state. In terms of humanitarian aid in the world, Turkey ranks 2nd after the United States with $6 billion and $6.3 billion respectively, Cavusoglu added. Dr. Altay Atli, a research associate specializing on the Asia-Pacific region at Sabanci University's Istanbul Policy Center, said, Turkey’s leading role in the Rohingya issue has two components: Humanitarian aid, including an open check offered to Bangladesh to cover the costs of the refugees, and diplomatic initiatives, such as taking the issue to the UN and mobilizing the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). “These two components, implemented together, can be effective,” he said.
Britain’s International Development Secretary, Priti Patel in a statement released on 8 September said, “The appalling violence in Rakhine must stop now. Britain urgently calls upon the security forces to de-escalate the situation in Rakhine and the Government of Burma to allow immediate and full humanitarian access and support for the people and communities affected.”
Britain is immediately releasing a further £5 million from existing funds to provide additional critical life-saving assistance such as food, shelter, water and sanitation to those who are fleeing the violence. In addition, Britain is ready to support the recommendations of the Kofi Annan led Rakhine Advisory Commission to assist the long-term development of all people in Rakhine state, but right now the immediate action is for the security forces to end the violence and the Government of Burma to allow humanitarian access.
The Rohingyas are a minority of about a million people who, despite living in the country for generations, are treated as illegal immigrants and denied citizenship. They have been persecuted for years by the government and nationalist Buddhists.
Fact Finding Mission
Under the present circumstances, four immediate actions should be taken before the Myanmar government became completely successful in ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas. Firstly, there is a repeated demand for a UN-mandated fact-finding mission established this year. The Myanmar government is also asked to allow the fact-finding mission to visit affected areas to carry out its assigned role.
Secondly, sanctions should be imposed immediately on Myanmar’s military. Pressure also grew on Myanmar as rights group urged world leaders to impose sanctions on its military.
Thirdly, Humanitarian aid should be allowed to enter and reach the worst affected Rohingyas immediately.
Return of Refugees to Rakhine
Fourthly, Return of Rohingya refugees plan should be made immediately. Repatriation of the refugees who went to Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries to their home in Rakhine state.