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February 12, 2018

Killing fields


February 12, 2018

After almost half a decade of persecution, the pleas of Myanmar’s Rohingya have continued to go unheard. There has been compelling evidence of an ongoing genocide of this community but there have been no takers. The international community has continued to turn a blind eye towards the almost half a million Rohingya who have been fleeing Myanmar for a safe passage to other countries. It is a surprise, therefore, that a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya men has begun to make waves. Part of the reason is simply the fact that there has been no ground reporting on the situation in the Rakhine state; the arrest of two journalists working on the report has not gone unnoticed, though. The issue itself came to light with the Burmese army making a rare admission in early January that they, along with villagers, had forced the men into a grave in early September 2017. This is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg of the brutal violations of Rohingya life and property that have occurred in Myanmar; the admission itself became a rallying point for international condemnation.

The trouble is that there is no reason to be optimistic just yet. The US call for a credible inquiry into the bloodshed is another red herring. The UN has called the situation in Myanmar ethnic cleansing. There is no time for further inquiries. If anything, the decision that needs to be debated – and which has not been seriously proposed – is whether to deploy UN Peacekeeping Forces or not. Focus has remained on what to do with the half a million Rohingya that have fled Myanmar. The Bangladesh government has been amongst others who are trying to repatriate them back to the killing fields of Myanmar. The UN Security Council has stood by and watched. There has been no condemnation either of countries who are deliberately violating the rights of refugees. But then today’s world can hardly be called refugee-friendly. Europe has no moral standing left to talk about the issue. The new US government is actively xenophobic. The UN has become a toothless body in the face of crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court cannot take up the matter since Myanmar is not a member – and China would veto any move by the UN Security Council to take the issue to the ICC. When the world stood and watched the Rwandan genocide in 1994, pledges were made to never stand by and watch again. Those promises have been confirmed to have been hollow. The world has stood by and watched as the Rohingya get massacred and are forced to flee their homes.

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