Myanmar’s government has released a report stating that there is not enough evidence to support allegations of ethnic cleansing against the country’s Rohingya Muslims. But it seems very much like the commission behind the report – set up by State Counsellor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi – is clutching at straws in order to save face.
The report denies widespread claims of rape, and it fails to comment on alleged murders, arson, illegal arrests, and torture of the Rohingya minority group. It also rejects allegations of genocide on the basis that there are still Rohingya Muslims living in Rakhine State, and that attackers have not destroyed Islamic buildings. But these two points in no way mean that a genocide isn’t happening.
Evidence of ethnic cleansing
Officials have banned journalists and investigators from the Rakhine State, making it difficult to independently verify the allegations in question. UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said these restrictions have been “short-sighted, counterproductive, even callous”. But what is perhaps even more callous is the outright denial of ethnic cleansing, which is apparent despite the lack of independent verification. Ethnic cleansing is defined as the mass expulsion or killing of members of one ethnic group by another. And this is exactly what we see.
Bangladesh says around 50,000 Rohingya have crossed its border over the past two months. Also, since 2012, more than 170,000 Muslims (mostly Rohingya) have fled Myanmar. Many of them fall into the hands of human traffickers.
Video footage allegedly shows the bodies of some 300 Rohingya killed by the Burmese army. There are also claims that the Burmese army has killed innocent Muslim civilians as retaliation for attacks by Rohingya militants.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that arson attacks destroyed 820 buildings in five different Rohingya villages between 10 and 18 November 2016. In addition, HRW had previously identified 430 destroyed buildings using satellite imagery. And it’s possible that dense tree cover is hiding even more fire-affected buildings.
A statement published by Fortify Rights reveals that the state has kept 120,000 Muslims (again, mostly Rohingya) in 40 internment camps. The conditions in many of these camps are decrepit and squalid, and waterborne illnesses and malnutrition are all too common.
Buddhist majority in conflict with Muslim minority
As previously reported at The Canary, conflict erupted in June 2012, with a breakdown in relations between Myanmar’s majority Buddhist population and the minority Rohingya population. Widespread rioting and clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine left 200 people dead and thousands more displaced. The rape and murder of a young Buddhist woman sparked the conflict. The following years saw many more instances of violence, killing, riots, arson, and accusations of rape.
The Rohingya community has reportedly lived in Myanmar since the 8th century. And the UN claims that they are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Until 1982, when the government took their citizenship away, they were full Burmese citizens.
The Burmese state continues to deny them citizenship, despite the fact that they can trace their ancestry back generations. Many Rakhine Buddhists, instead of referring to the Rohingya as Burmese, call them ‘Bengali’. They view the entire population as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. This includes those whose family settled in the country generations ago.
Pledge to protect minorities broken
So far, Aung San Suu Kyi hasn’t done enough to address the current crisis in Myanmar. And she has appears to have stood with the majority Buddhist population at the expense of the oppressed Rohingya minority group. She even refuses to use the term ‘Rohingya’, while many of her colleagues still refer to them as ‘Bengalis’. Essentially, while the Nobel laureate talks about the “dignity and worth of the human person”, she won’t even acknowledge the identity of the Rohingya.
The latest official report from Myanmar’s government is just another sign that it is doing little to resolve the current crisis. And as Aung San Suu Kyi fails to keep her promise to protect minority rights, the integrity of the Nobel Peace Prize is also under scrutiny yet again.
– Take further action with Burma Campaign UK.
Featured image via Flickr
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?