Penny Green / Thomas MacManus / Alicia de la Cour Venning
For decades, the Rohingya people in Myanmar have been victims of widespread governmental violations that, when considered holistically, and analysed systematically, reveal a bleak conclusion: the Rohingya people are gradually being decimated.
This dramatic conclusion has not been drawn powerfully or often enough. It has been obscured by the gradual, multidimensional character of discriminatory and oppressive policies against the Rohingya, the historical unfolding of these policies over many decades, and the fact that they have fluctuated in intensity.
The failure to resolve the critical situation of the Rohingya can be attributed in part to Myanmar’s historic political democratic transition, which has absorbed the energies and attention of almost all national and international actors; and to the unfortunate animosity from many in Myanmar toward the Rohingya com-munity and those who defend them, even those who were and are still victims of human rights violations. Careful government planning grounded in decades of military rule, and skillful diplomatic manipulation, has further exacerbated an already intractable crisis.
With respect to the international community, the balance at this moment is mainly negative. The constant voicing of concerns regarding the suffering of the Rohingya, even the most pressing and urgent ones, are not enough to dismantle the machinery that oppresses them. Nor is there a sufficiently deep or complex understanding of the fundamental underlying dimensions of what is happening in Myanmar; namely, a progressive deterioration of the Rohingya community.
Facing this critical situation, the commitments assumed by other stakeholders are fundamental. In this sense, we count on the research of the International State Crime Initiative from Queen Mary, University of London. Based on Daniel Feierstein's analytical framework, the report solidly proves the different mechanisms targeted to weaken the Rohingya, and arrives at a convincing conclusion: that a process of genocide against the Rohingya population is underway in Myanmar.
Rohingya groups also report genocide, but the fact is that apart from them very few organizations have arrived at the same conclusion. There is no doubt that it is a very delicate subject, and in this case, due to the increasing engagement with the political transition in Myanmar, we must note that is has been embarrassing for the international community to express the idea of genocide.
Notwithstanding this, with investigations like the one presented in this report from Queen Mary University of London, the evidence of the crime of ius cogens has been accumulating. At this point, the situation of the Rohingya cannot be understood without considering a possible genocide.
We must acknowledge that Myanmar has been going through significant changes during recent years, and now faces a national election that is critical for its future. A peace process is ongoing, and some human rights shortcomings have been overcome, although many others remain. But the plight of the Rohingya has deteriorated rapidly. The community is cornered and traumatised, forcing them to escape in the worst possible conditions to the open sea, where many perish with the rest of the world scarcely reacting.
If we could for one moment imagine how it feels to be a young Rohingya woman, we would see the real face of our civilization: denial of their existence, health deprivation, limited access to food, confinement, the fear of rape, torture and violent death. To offer them an alternative, is a legal and moral obligation we all have.
Tomás Ojea Quintana,