Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary butch­ers should be brought to jus­tice

The Niagara Falls Review - - Opinion -

“Geno­cide” is a word so laden with hu­man de­prav­ity and hor­ror that it should never be ut­tered lightly.

So the fact that United Na­tions in­ves­ti­ga­tors have named top mil­i­tary of­fi­cers in Myan­mar and ac­cused them of “geno­ci­dal in­tent” in their vi­cious per­se­cu­tion of the coun­try’s Ro­hingya mi­nor­ity should make the world sit up, take no­tice and — fi­nally — do some­thing mean­ing­ful.

Be­cause geno­cide means noth­ing less than the mass ex­ter­mi­na­tion of hu­mans, es­pe­cially those of a spe­cific race or eth­nic group.

And af­ter metic­u­lously ex­am­in­ing what has been hap­pen­ing in Myan­mar’s Rakhine state, the UN factfind­ing mis­sion had no qualms about assert­ing this week that geno­cide is pre­cisely what the coun­try’s top mil­i­tary lead­ers have planned and tried to ex­e­cute. The in­ves­ti­ga­tors did not choose their words lightly.

Mass killings. Rape. Homes burned and en­tire com­mu­ni­ties re­duced to ashes. Of­fi­cial poli­cies to al­ter the de­mo­graphic com­po­si­tion of Rakhine state.

These have be­come re­al­ity for the Ro­hingya over the past few years. And these con­sti­tute the damn­ing case against many of Myan­mar’s lead­ers. Eth­nic cleans­ing is too soft a phrase to cap­ture the fiendish bru­tal­ity of their deeds. In­stead, their ac­tions con­sti­tute “the gravest crimes un­der in­ter­na­tional law,” ac­cord­ing to the in­de­pen­dent UN mis­sion.

The vic­tims in all this are the Ro­hingya, a Mus­lim, eth­nic-mi­nor­ity group. Their tor­men­tors be­long to Myan­mar’s over­whelm­ingly Bud­dhist ma­jor­ity.

Con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates say more than 10,000 Ro­hingya have per­ished in this con­certed cam­paign of ha­tred. More than 725,000 oth­ers have been forced to flee home and coun­try. They now lan­guish in crowded refugee camps in neigh­bour­ing Bangladesh. And at least 37,000 Ro­hingya build­ings have been wholly or par­tially razed.

Nor is re­spon­si­bil­ity con­fined to a ca­bal of gen­er­als. The once revered Aung San Suu Kyi, win­ner of the No­bel Peace Prize, was con­demned by the in­ves­ti­ga­tors for not us­ing her author­ity as the coun­try’s de facto civil­ian leader to de­fend the Ro­hingya.

If Canada does noth­ing else, it should re­voke the honorary cit­i­zen­ship it be­stowed upon her.

The world has long known about Myan­mar’s atroc­i­ties. And the world has largely let it hap­pen.

Strongly-worded con­dem­na­tion in diplo­matic com­mu­niqués, eco­nomic sanc­tions — all have been tried and failed. In the­ory, mil­i­tary ac­tion might have worked. In prac­tice, for­eign in­ter­ven­tions of­ten end in new and unan­tic­i­pated blood­shed.

Now, the UN re­port should pro­vide fresh im­pe­tus for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to act. The UN has never be­fore lev­elled such strong ac­cu­sa­tions of geno­cide.

The world knows who is sus­pected of these crimes against hu­man­ity. For the sake of the Ro­hingya, liv­ing and dead, and in the in­ter­est of up­hold­ing wide­spread prin­ci­ples of hu­man rights, the peo­ple named should stand trial.

This won’t be easy. Myan­mar’s gov­ern­ment has not agreed to be held ac­count­able to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court. Nor can the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil be counted on for help. China, a per­ma­nent coun­cil mem­ber, will not sup­port haul­ing Myan­mar gen­er­als be­fore a judge. Prose­cut­ing any­one will be dif­fi­cult.

Even so, ev­ery na­tion that sup­ports hu­man rights and the prin­ci­ple of a bind­ing in­ter­na­tional law should join to­gether to hold the peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for the car­nage in Myan­mar ac­count­able for their ac­tions. In ad­di­tion, Myan­mar should face an in­ter­na­tional arms em­bargo.

Af­ter all, the UN in­ves­ti­ga­tors aren’t sug­gest­ing Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary was merely steal­ing from peo­ple or dis­crim­i­nat­ing against them. The ac­cu­sa­tion is “geno­ci­dal in­tent.” Bring­ing the crim­i­nals to jus­tice and jus­tice to Myan­mar is a moral im­per­a­tive for us all.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.