Monday, 21 May 2018

'100,000 Rohingyas to be relocated to Bhashan Char in 2 months'

Rohingya crisis 2017
File Photo: Rohingya refugees gather to collect relief at the Balukhali Makeshift Refugee Camp as they are affected by Cyclone Mora in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh May 31, 2017 Reuters

The Rohingyas will be relocated there before August, Secretary Mohammad Shah Kamal says

100,000 Rohingyas, who have taken shelter in Bangladesh amid persecution in Myanmar, will be relocated to Bhashan Char of Hatiya upazila in Noakhaliwithin two months.

Disaster Management and Relief secretary Mohammad Shah Kamal came up with the information at a programme at Balukhali camp in Cox's Bazar's Ukhiya upazila.

The secretary said that all the preparations have been completed and the Rohingyas will be relocated there before August.

Earlier on November 14, 2017, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved a Tk2,312.15 crore project for giving temporary shelter to Rohingyas at Bhashan Char.

The Ecnec approved the project titled "Ashrayan-3" for construction of necessary infrastructure for the housing of 100,000 displaced Myanmar citizens, and construction of island infrastructure at Bhashan Char.

UN dithers over Rohingya genocide

Source mg, 18 May

Displaced: More than 700 000 Rohingya refugees have flooded into Bangladesh, but monsoon season is coming, and now severe weather threatens their makeshift shelters (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Displaced: More than 700 000 Rohingya refugees have flooded into Bangladesh, but monsoon season is coming, and now severe weather threatens their makeshift shelters (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

While the international community fences over whether to name the ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas in Myanmar a genocide, the killing reportedly continues — and 700 000 refugees in Bangladesh batten down to face what could prove to be an equally deadly monsoon season.

The massacres, mass rapes, village-razing, forced famine and expulsions were recognised as bearing "the hallmarks of genocide" on March 12 by Yanghee Lee, the United Nation's human rights rapporteur on Myanmar. This came on the heels of a report by the Myanmar military that exonerated all but 10 security force members of any crimes against the Rohingya. Yanghee's statement is the strongest affirmation by the UN of the gravity of the crisis since its human rights chief, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, warned days earlier that what he suspected were "acts of genocide" were ongoing in Rakhine State, albeit with lower intensity.

Most diplomats such as former United States secretary of state Rex Tillerson have referred to the crisis as "ethnic cleansing". But the term has no grounding in international law — unlike "genocide" and "crimes against humanity". An official UN Security Council designation such as genocide is critical to activate the 1948 Genocide Convention to which Myanmar is a signatory, but the UN has very rarely done so, as in Bosnia and Darfur — and as China is a significant supplier of arms to Myanmar, it would be hard to secure.

The desire of most Rohingya to return to their ancestral lands is thwarted by the influence in the military of Myanmar's ultra-right Buddhist monks, rendering Myanmar's Nelson Mandela figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, powerless. Some Myanmar experts, such as Politico magazine's Nahal Toosi, have argued that her inaction on the genocide, and flat refusal to use the word "Rohingya", and in so doing risk alienating her ethnic support base, reveals her to be a Burman nationalist.

Near the Myanmar border and close to the epicentre of the genocide, Kutupalong is a vast, ersatz camp of 150 000 Rohingya refugees, distinguishable from Bangladeshi Muslims by their dress, language and customs dating back to the mediaeval kingdom of Arakan, which straddled contemporary Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Perched on a hillside overlooking a Red Crescent compound, Abdul Rahim is barely 18, but he carries a laminated card around his neck indicating he is a majhi, a Rohingya community leader, recognised by the camp authorities. Most elders, too weak to escape, were slaughtered by Buddhist and Myanmar army deathsquads.

Rahim's 60-year-old father, Mohamed Ali, was among them: the man was "locked in his house by the army and a mob [acting] together, and the house was burned"; Rahim's 23-year-old brother Osil Haman was shot; his mother, six other brothers and two sisters managed to escape.

"At the time of the attack, I was visiting Kulsumar Akter, a beautiful girl of 16 who I was friends with in a neighbouring village. The army raped her and killed her in front of me. Ten or 12 very beautiful girls were gathered in a house, raped and killed by the army."

Another young majhi is Mohamed Islam (22) from Maungdaw in Rakhine State, a town that was 80% Rohingya before 120 000 Rohingyas were relocated between 2012 and 2016, supposedly for their protection from hostile neighbours, to de facto concentration camps. He tells of the assault on his community by a force of the Myanmar army acting alongside a local vigilante group.

"It was four o'clock in the afternoon on 25 August. Suddenly they attacked. The [vigilante militia] was wearing army uniforms. They were shooting everyone and burning the houses; these were the targets of the Myanmar government. I was running in the yard of my house from the army but an army sniper shot me in the foot and I fell down; the army thought that I had died so they left me. When I opened my eyes, I saw lots of dead bodies; my friend Shokil, who was 27 years old, was killed."

Moved during the night by two fellow survivors, who carried the wounded Islam on a wooden pole between them, he said they encountered village after village where corpses were strewn about. It took the trio two terrifying days to cover the 70km to the Naf River, which marks the border with Bangladesh, and cross to safety.

On arrival in the forest reserve on the outskirts of the southern Bangladeshi town of Ukhia, the tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees initially had to live under the stars, taking their chances with snakes and elephants that killed several. Of the 700 000 survivors who settled in three big refugee camps such as Kutupalong and 10 smaller ones, Unicef estimates that 60% are children.

The camp is dotted with "child-friendly spaces". I visit one, where perhaps 50 children squat on the floor in clusters. Among the scattered smiles there are hard eyes and faraway stares. Everyone here seems to have scarred hearts or bodies.

One of the few elders in the camp, Noor Bashir (56) had a narrow escape: he lifts his bazu shirt and longyi to show me the machete wounds on his legs and right hip.

An August 2017 documentary by Al Jazeera correspondent Salam Hindawi, who managed to get inside one of the concentration camps in Rakhine State, shows Rohingya women gang-rape survivors in tears as they recount witnessing their husbands being taken away by the military to an uncertain fate.

Days earlier and 330km north-northwest, I had been sitting in the modest office of Bangladesh's deputy director general of immigration. She plied me with tea and mishti sweetmeats as her minions processed my visa extension application. Stacked high on the desks of offices below were applications from hundreds of Chinese and Indians as well as Belarussians and many other nationalities, but no Rohingyas. Bangladesh has not granted them refugee status. Even the pre-genocide community of 400 000 who fled repression two decades ago is unassimilated, disallowed from travelling, schooling or marrying Bengalis.

Now the monsoon season threatens the lives of an estimated 100 000 survivors: though the aid organisations have built concrete stairs, water tanks and woven-bamboo, plastic and corrugated iron shelters for the Rohingya, these are unlikely to withstand cyclone-force winds and mudslides.

That my interviews take place on the 70th anniversary of the still unresolved dispossession of 700 000 other Muslims — those of Palestine in 1948 — make the Rohingyas' appeals for the full reinstatement of their citizenship and homes that much more poignant — and desperate.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Myanmar’s Killing Fields

Source SBS, 15 May

A special investigation into the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar. We examine evidence that Myanmar's security forces used systematic rape and terror tactics to expel hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from the country.
 Evan Williams
 Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 21:30
Since security forces began a violent campaign in August 2017, up to 700,000 people have fled their homes to travel across the Myanmar border to nearby Bangladesh.
Thousands of civilians, including children, are thought to have been killed, in a story of systematic discrimination, state-sanctioned violence and, ultimately, mass murder.
In this special hour-long Dateline film, reporter Evan Williams hears first-hand about brutal killings and attacks on Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya Muslim population - and looks at whether Myanmar's leaders, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, should be held accountable for these atrocities.
"She had gone from a human rights heroine, a beacon of democracy, to a politician catering to the military, wanting the military to support her," says former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson.
Aung San Suu Kyi rejects the criticism and says that the military is simply hunting terrorists, but a network of Rohingya activists were secretly filming what was really happening, risking their lives in the process.
Their ground breaking accounts of video evidence of several unknown massacres, provides Dateline with the first proper look at whether the killing of civilians could be genocide.
Watch the full story at the top of the page.
What is Aung San Suu Kyi's legacy?
These aid agencies are operating in Myanmar, to assist Rohingya refugees:


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

U.N. Security Council: Refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court

Source FortifyRights, 8 May
Security Council concluded visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh on May 1

(NEW YORK, May 8, 2018)—The United Nations Security Council should refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and possibly prosecute atrocity crimes, including the crime of genocide, against Rohingya Muslims and others, Fortify Rights said today.

From April 29 to May 1, a 15-member U.N. Security Council delegation visited Bangladesh and Myanmar to meet with Rohingya survivors of human rights violations in Myanmar as well as senior diplomats and government officials.

"Impunity is entrenched in Myanmar," said Matthew Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Fortify Rights. "Domestic remedies have been exhausted—the government failed to properly investigate the heinous crimes that have taken place, and that's precisely why a referral is warranted."

In a report published in November 2017, Fortify Rights and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum documented how the Myanmar Army massacred untold numbers of Rohingya men, women, and children, gang-raped masses of women and girls, and committed widespread arson attacks, razing hundreds of villages in northern Rakhine State, making it impossible for Rohingya to survive in their native areas.

Based on hundreds of testimonies from eyewitnesses and survivors collected during a yearlong investigation, the report found "mounting evidence" of genocide.

Since October 2016, the Myanmar authorities forced more than 775,000 Rohingya refugees to flee to Bangladesh, causing a humanitarian crisis. Myanmar Army-led attacks on Rohingya civilians were in response to violent assaults on security forces by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in October 2016 and again in August 2017.

The Government of Myanmar continues to deny aid groups, journalists, and human rights monitors—including a U.N.-established Fact-Finding Mission—unfettered access to areas of northern Rakhine State.

Myanmar authorities also continue to deny allegations of atrocities in Rakhine State. Following a meeting with the U.N. Security Councildelegation on April 30, Myanmar Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing claimed, "No sexual violence happened in the history of the country's military." State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi's office previously described allegations of rape by security forcesas "rumors," "fabricated stories," and "one-sided accusations." In August 2017, the Office of State Counselor Suu Kyi claimed "extremist terrorists" were burning down civilian homes.

Prior to the most recent wave of mass atrocity crimes, state-run publications alluded to Rohingya as "detestable human fleas" and "thorns" that need to be removed. The government continues to deny Rohingya equal access to citizenship rights.

"The Myanmar government's wholesale denials and dehumanizing rhetoric are signals, in the very least, of an unwillingness to hold perpetrators accountable," said Matthew Smith. "The government is crying foul, but the facts demand an ICC referral now."

On April 29, Rohingya refugees in Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh staged a demonstration for visiting Security Council representatives, demanding guarantees for a safe and voluntary return to Myanmar's Rakhine State and accountability for atrocities perpetrated by Myanmar state security forces. Representatives of the Rohingya community provided the visiting delegation with a list of demands, including an international security presence in Rakhine State and the provision of full citizenship rights in Myanmar.

War crimes and crimes against humanity in Kachin and Shan states in Myanmar should also be the subject of an ICC referral, Fortify Rights said.

Fighting between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army has displaced more than 100,000 civilians in Kachin State since armed conflict reignited in June 2011. An escalation in the conflict in recent weeks forcibly displaced an additional 6,800 civilians.

Fortify Rights documented killings, systematic torture, human shielding, forced labor, arbitrary arrest, and other violations by Myanmar state security forces in Kachin and northern Shan states since in 2011. The Government of Myanmar has effectively denied humanitarian aid to displaced populations.

In a 2014 report, Fortify Rights documented torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment of more than 60 Kachin civilians by members of the Myanmar Army, military intelligence, and the Myanmar Police Force. These violations constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On April 23, more than 30 Kachin civil society organizations called on the U.N. Security Council to urgently refer Myanmar to the ICC. This week, peaceful demonstrations occurred in several locations in Myanmar with protesters calling for an end to the armed conflict in Kachin State and for the Myanmar government to ensure that civilians trapped in Tanai Township and Kamai sub-township can safely travel to areas free of conflict. Protesters face potential charges for their involvement in the demonstrations.

In addition to a referral to the ICC, the Security Council should also implement a global arms embargo on Myanmar and targeted sanctions against those responsible for mass atrocity crimes, Fortify Rights said.

"The absence of concerted and timely international action paved the way for mass atrocities in Kachin, Shan, and Rakhine states," said Matthew Smith. "The international community should immediately disrupt the culture of impunity."


On April 16, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced the inclusion of Myanmar's Armed Forces on a blacklist of groups that are "credibly suspected" of carrying out sexual violence during conflict. The report found that the Myanmar military's "widespread threat and use of sexual violence was integral to their strategy, humiliating, terrorizing and collectively punishing the Rohingya community."

On November 12, 2017, the U.N. Special Envoy on Sexual Violence Pramila Patten said the Myanmar Army's widespread use of sexual violence against Rohingya women and girls was "a calculated tool of terror aimed at the extermination and removal of the Rohingya as a group," adding that she documented the basis for characterizing the crimes as genocide.

In a statement during a Special Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council on December 5, 2017, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein referred to the crime of genocide with regard to the attack on Rohingya, saying, "can anyone rule out that elements of genocide may be present?" In a BBC film that aired later that month, High Commissioner Zeid said that members of the military as well as the civilian government in the country may be liable for genocide. The U.N. Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee likewise said on February 1 that the situation of Rohingya in Myanmar "bears the hallmarks of genocide."

In 2015, a legal analysis prepared for Fortify Rights by the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School found "strong evidence" that the Government of Myanmar was responsible for genocide against Rohingya Muslims.

A 79-page report by Fortify Rights in 2014 exposed Myanmar government documents, orders, and enforcement methods restricting Rohingya freedom of movement, marriage, childbirth, and other aspects of daily life in northern Rakhine State. The restrictions were based on ethnicity and religion and remain in effect today.

Letter From America: Cologne Conference demands accountability of the Myanmar Government

Source AsianTribune, 6 May

By Habib Siddiqui

The Rohingyas are victims of a 'slow-burning genocide' that is perpetrated as a national project in Buddhist Myanmar (formerly Burma). Some 700,000 Rohingyas have been forced out of their ancestral homes in western Rakhine (formerly Arakan) state since September 2017 to seek refuge inside Cox's Bazar of Bangladesh.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have also been living as internally displaced persons (IDPs) inside the Apartheid Myanmar since 2012. The International Rescue Committee (Nov. 15, 2017) estimated that there were 75,000 victims of gender-based violence (meaning rape), and that 45% of the Rohingya women attending safe spaces in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh had reported such attacks.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has estimated that at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in the first month of the crackdown alone. Credible estimates suggest that tens of thousands of Rohingyas may have been killed by Tatmadaw (Myanmar security forces that are more commonly known as the 'rapist army') and their civilian partners-in-crime within the mostly Rakhine Buddhist population.

According to satellite imagery (March 2018), more than 360 Rohingya villages had been partially or completely destroyed by Buddhist forces since August, with at least 55 villages completely bulldozed, removing all traces of buildings, wells and vegetation.

An international conference on "Rohingya Crisis and Solution" was convened on May 2, 2018 in Cologne, Germany. It was hosted by the Hasene IGMG (a not-for-profit organization of Turkish people working in Germany) and attended by some 500 participants from all over the globe and comprised representatives from the diplomatic corps, international organisations, human rights groups, academia, civil society, non-governmental organisations and media, as well as leaders of the Rohingya organisations.

Muhammad Turhan, Mesud Gulbahar and Kemal Ergun from Hasene IGMG welcomed the attendees to Cologne, which is the fourth most populated city in Germany. The keynote speech for the morning session was delivered by Philip Ruddock, ex-MP (1973-2016) who had served as a cabinet minister during the Howard Government and then as the Attorney General. He highlighted the importance of holding the murderous Myanmar regime accountable for its genocidal crimes. The speakers and panelists included Professor Abid Bahar (from Montreal, Canada), Prof. Michael Charney (University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies), Jacob Sterken (from Canada) who is the co-founder of the Euro-Burma Office, and Nurul Islam, Chairman of ARNO (Arakan Rohingya National Organization). They discussed various aspects of history of Arakan showing the indigenous root of the Rohingya people there.

Mr. Islam thanked Bangladesh government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for letting the fleeing Rohingya refugees to take shelter inside Bangladesh and for bringing their plight to the international community, including the UN. He and other speakers urged the Government of Bangladesh not to forcibly resettle the refugees inside Myanmar until and unless they are truly secured with equal rights as citizens of Myanmar.

The keynote speaker for the second session was Tansri Dr. Syed Hamid Albar who had held multiple ministerial positions in Malaysia, including the foreign ministry. He discussed how the government of Myanmar had abused the openness shown by the ASEAN that did not want to interfere in internal affairs of a fellow block member. The speakers and panelists included (besides myself) Dr. Maung Zarni (from the UK) – a fellow human rights activist and Burmese dissident, Imam Dr. Abdul Malik Mujahid (Chairman, Burma Task Force, USA) and Mehmet Ozturk of Anadolu Agency.

The theme of the second panel discussion was around genocidal crimes against the Rohingyas of Myanmar. We stated categorically that genocide is a process that goes through several stages; it does not happen by accident but is a deliberate act with warning signs. We also reiterated that Myanmar had committed four out of the five acts of genocide as spelled out by the 1948 Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, while just one of those acts is sufficient to incriminate a group or state for such crimes.

We urged the international community to punish the criminals – state and non-state actors – including those (e.g., fascist academics like Dr. Aye Chan and bigoted monks like Wirathu) who provoked (and continue to provoke) genocidal crimes against the Rohingya people. Dr. Mujahid shared the opposition routinely faced by Burma Task Force – an advocacy group for human rights in Burma - from the lobby groups representing India, Indonesia and the Jewelry merchant group in the U.S. State Department. He also shared information that the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – two of the major human rights groups - are opposed to any comprehensive sanction imposed on Myanmar, thus, making the task of changing the policy in Washington D.C. an arduous one, if not a zero-sum activity.

We, the speakers, highlighted the fact that genocide against Rohingya has continued this long because of ignoring early warning signs since at least the early 1990s when some 270,000 Rohingyas were forced to take shelter inside Bangladesh when Pyi Thaya operation was launched by the Myanmar security forces. It was the second such massive operation in 14 years when Naga Min (King Dragon) operation in 1978-79 forced the exodus of nearly 300,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh. Even the 2012 genocidal pogroms that led to internal displacement of nearly 150,000 Rohingyas were not taken seriously by the international community, including the next-door Bangladesh government, despite serious urging from human rights activists and genocide experts/scholars.

The keynote speaker for the third session was Professor David Scheffer who is the Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law, and Director, Center for International Human Rights at the Northwestern University, Chicago, USA. He joined via Skype and discussed issues surrounding genocidal and war crimes. The speakers and panelists included Dhaka University (Bangladesh) professors of International Relations: Drs. Chowdhury R. Abrar and Imtiaz Ahmed. The other speakers included Harn Yawnghwe who is the Executive Director of Euro-Burma Office (and son of Burma's fist president – Sao Shwe Thaike) and Amir Ahmic, Liaison Officer at International Criminal Tribunal (Bosnia).

The speakers shared their experiences in dealing with genocidal crimes perpetrated against the Rohingyas and Bosnians (in former Yugoslavia). They called for 'Protected Return to Protected Homeland' for the Rohingya people. They highlighted the importance of providing formal education to the Rohingya children in refugee camps. They also raised the issues surrounding raped victims, their pregnancy and children, and that more international funding is necessary to address such issues immediately. The speakers also discussed the 'Suu Kyi' factor and how democracy went backward rather than moving forward under her de-factor leadership in Myanmar. She is a complicit to the genocidal crimes perpetrated by her security forces. They also urged concerned global citizens, esp. lawyers and legal experts, to file cases implicating members of the Myanmar government and military for their genocidal crimes against the Rohingya people. They also urged all to boycott Made-in-Myanmar products to create pressure on the criminal government of Myanmar to change its course so that the Rohingyas are integrated as equal citizens with all their rights preserved inside their ancestral homeland of Arakan.

The last session of the day was chaired by Dr. Graham Thom who has worked as Amnesty International Australia's Refugee Coordinator since May 2000. Regina Paulose, J.D., an attorney specializing on International Criminal Law and Razia Sultana, a Rohingya lawyer who grew up as a refugee inside Bangladesh, and is the founder of Rohingya Women Welfare, joined via Skype, sharing their views on international law as these pertain to Myanmar's genocidal crimes against the Rohingya people, esp. females.

Munira Subasic who had lost 22 family members in Srebrenica in July 1995 to Serbian genocidal criminals and was a primary eye-witness at The Hague International Court shared her insights about dealing with the pains of being a survivor to genocide, esp. the fact that while the Bosnian genocide stopped some two decades ago the Serbian criminals that killed his family members and raped so many women (and little girls) are still alive and continue to work and roam around unscathed within the Serbian territory of the new republic. She urged resoluteness in dealing with the Rohingya genocide and never to give up in demanding and to seeing justice carried out against the perpetrators of a genocide.

Beini Ye who works as the Legal Officer of Open Society Justice Initiative in the UK shared her expertise in legal matters dealing with the Rohingya genocide. She said that the Myanmar's rapist military have been using rape as a weapon of war to terrorize the Rohingya community permanently. The 'rapist' military has had used similar tactics in its war against ethnic rebels in the border territories.

A lively questions and answers session followed each panel discussion. The conference ended with a note of solidarity with the Rohingya people and called upon the international community to stop the Rohingya genocide and to prosecute the criminals for perpetrating and/or inciting genocidal crimes against them.

The speakers and attendees thanked Hasene International and its organizers for their generosity in hosting this much-needed international conference in Germany.

- Asian Tribune -

Monday, 30 April 2018

Latter From America - Do the Rohingyas qualify as victims of genocide?

Source Asiantribune
By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

The Genocide Convention was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 and entered into force in 1951. It declares that genocide is a crime under international law.

The Genocide Convention was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 and entered into force in 1951. It declares that genocide is a crime under international law.

Article II of the Genocide Convention defines genocide as: any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

- Killing members of the group;

- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Genocide is a serious crime that cannot be used lightly. It is the ultimate denial of the right to existence of an entire group of human beings. As such, it is the quintessential human rights crime because it denies its victims' very humanity.

In the last eight months, since August 2017, some 700,000 natives of Arakan (or the Rakhine state) – the Rohingya Muslims and Hindus – have been forced to leave their ancestral homes to settle in Bangladesh as refugees. They left behind everything that was once important to them and even family members – as their properties were looted before being burned down with living family members inside. The International Rescue Committee estimated that there were 75,000 victims of gender-based violence (meaning rape), and that 45% of the Rohingya women attending safe spaces in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh had reported such attacks. Thousands of men and women were killed as part of a very sinister national campaign that was planned and executed by the Myanmar (formerly Burma) government and its partners-in-crime amongst the Buddhist people, esp. within the Rakhine (formerly Arakan) state.

Human rights activists and genocide experts have been calling the Rohingyas the victims of Genocide. For instance, Dr. Maung Zarni and Alice Cowley in their seminal work "The slow-burning genocide of Myanmar's Rohingya", noted that both the State in Myanmar and the local community have committed four out of five acts of genocide as spelled out by the 1948 Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide.

Do the Rohingyas qualify as victims of genocide?

Genocide experts tell us that genocide is a process that usually goes through several stages. The first four of the five stages are the early warnings:

1. Classification and Symbolization
2. Dehumanization and Discrimination
3. Organization and Polarization
4. Preparation
5. Execution

1. Classification is a primary method of dividing a society or polity into heterogeneous groups and symbolization is often used to cement divisive identities between groups, which is then used to justify crimes against the targeted group.

i. Rakhine Buddhists vs. Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine (formerly Arakan) state of Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a clear case where the Muslim minority is distinguished based on its ethnicity, race and religion. They are derogatorily called the Kala or Kalar people (synonymous to the English word 'nigger').

ii. In spite of their long history of existence in Arakan, the Rohingyas of Myanmar are accused of being "Bengalis" or "Chittagonians" (even 'terrorists' who had intruded illegally into Myanmar who want to "Islamize" the "Buddhist" Myanmar.

iii. As a high-profile refugee case highlighted the plight of the Rohingya, Ye Myint Aung, the Burmese Consulate-General in Hong Kong, wrote to foreign missions in Hong Kong in Feb. 2009 insisting that the Rohingyas should not be described as being from Burma, the South China Morning Post reported. He said that the Rohingyas are of 'dark brown' complexion and 'ugly as ogres' compared to 'fair and soft skin' people of Burma.

2. The dominant group uses either political power or muscle, laws and regulations to deny rights of the targeted group to further discriminate and persecute it. Then it robs the victim's humanity by comparing it with animals, parasites, insects, diseases or 'virus'. When a group of people is thought of as "less than human" it is easier for the dominant group to murder them. At this stage, hate propaganda in print and on hate radios is used to make the victims seem like villains. Dehumanization of the targeted group is used as the sufficient rationale to justify discriminatory laws and practices.

i. Rohingyas were declared non-citizens via the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law, effectively making them stateless. The legal experts contend that the Burmese Citizenship Law violates several fundamental principles of international customary law standards, offends the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and leaves Rohingyas exposed to no legal protection of their rights

ii. Rohingyas are denied all and everyone of the 30 basic human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). They are denied access to public schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and medical centers, government jobs, etc.; even their movement inside the country and the Rakhine state is restricted.

iii. Rakhine extremists and intellectuals (like Dr. Aye Chan) depicted the Rohingya people as 'influx viruses' – the 'illegal Muslims of Arakan' that needed to be eliminated. [Influx Viruses: The Illegal Muslims in Arakan By U Shw zan and Dr. Aye Chan]

iv. Another Buddhist extremist, Khin Maung Saw depicts Rohingyas as the camel in a Burmese fable that dislodged its owner from his tent, waring fellow Arakanese Buddhists against the Rohingyas whom he calls as "Chittagonian Bengalis" - "the guest who want to kick out the Host from his own house".

3. Genocide is a group crime. Thus, it always needs organized efforts, usually by the state and sometimes by the non-state actors. Special army units or militias are often trained and armed. Plans are made for 'final solution' or genocidal killings. Extremist hate groups drive the groups apart; they are tolerated and encouraged to polarize and terrorize the targeted victims. Laws are formulated to forbid social and economic interactions with the targeted victims. Public demonstrations are held against the targeted group.

i. The Rohingyas have been depicted as a demographic "bomb" for Myanmar.

ii. The elimination of the Rohingya and other Muslims has been a national project, since at least General Ne Win's time (1962-88).

iii. Genocidal crimes against the Rohingya people have been planned and executed by the Burmese governments since Ne Win's time, enjoying extensive support and active participation from the Buddhist community – politicians, academics, monks and the public alike, let alone the members of the state apparatus at both central (Myanmar) and local (Rakhine state) levels, esp. the police and security forces. At least 18 military operations (excluding the NaSaKa operations between 1992-2012) were carried out against the Rohingya people since Burma had won its independence from the Great Britain in 1948 in which more than a million Rohingyas were forced to become refugees in many parts of the world, esp. Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Gulf States.

iv. Scores of government-sponsored public demonstrations (including those organized by Buddhist monks) were held since the transfer of power from military regimes to Thein Sein's quasi-civilian/military regime and the current Suu Kyi's government demanding strong actions – including deportation and/or elimination of the Rohingya and other Muslims in Myanmar.

4. Preparation is made to eliminate or exterminate the targeted group. It often uses euphemisms to cloak their sinister intentions, such as referring to their goals as "isolation," 'surgical operations,' "ethnic cleansing," "purification," or "counter-terrorism." They indoctrinate the populace with fear of the victim group. Leaders often claim, "If we don't kill them, they will kill us." Attacks are often staged and blamed on targeted groups. Victims' properties are destroyed or confiscated. They are forced to leave their homes and/or encamped in concentration camps.

i. The genocidal pogroms of 2012, depicted as 'race riots' by the regime, were prompted by the false rumor – planted by the security forces - that two 'Rohingya' youths had killed a Rakhine woman – Thida Htwe - after raping her.

ii. In the so-called race riots of 2012, some 140,000 Rohingyas were displaced from their homes, which were burned down by joint operations of the security-cum-Buddhist mon-cum-Rakhine mobs in the Rakhine state. Internally displaced Rohingyas were forced to live in 'concentration-like' camps with little or no medical assistance.

iii. Thousands of Rohingyas are feared dead trying to flee Myanmar since 2012.

iv. More than two-thirds of the Rohingya (i.e., estimated at 2 million) were pushed out of Myanmar before the latest genocidal crimes of 2017.

v. Muslim owned homes, businesses and offices (including madrasa and mosques) were destroyed.

vi. The rape of Rohingya females, a crime that was to continue until now, was used as a weapon of war to terrorize the community.

5. Execution of the plan begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing or elimination of the targeted group, which is legally called "genocide." It is "extermination" to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human (see dehumanization). When it is sponsored by the government, the armed forces often work with private armies or militia to do the killing. It is always followed by denial of the crimes by the perpetrators – both during and after genocide. International press and investigative teams are barred from visiting the affected area and talk to the victims. Eye-witnesses or whistle-blowers are killed or 'disappear'. Evidences of genocide are destroyed.

i. Despite credible mounting evidences, which were termed either as 'ethnic cleansing' or 'genocidal', Suu Kyi's government denied such accusations. "I don't think there is ethnic cleaning going on," Suu Kyi told the BBC, April 2017.

ii. "It's Muslims killing Muslims as well, if they think that they are collaborating with authorities … It's a matter of people on different sides of a divide." – Suu Kyi said, ibid.

iii. "No one can fully understand the situation of our country the way we do". – Suu Kyi said

iv. Suu Kyi said the army was "not free to rape, pillage and torture".

v. Myanmar's army released a report that found "no deaths of innocent people" (11/2017)

As the short analysis shows above, there is no doubt that Rohingyas are victims of genocide. The findings from dozens of respectable institutions around our globe also concur.

I often question what is the basis for a nation's claim to independence or self-determination? Must a people wander in the wilderness for two millennia and suffer repeated persecution, humiliation and genocide to qualify? Until now, history's answer to the question has been pragmatic and brutal – a nation is a people tough enough to grab the land it wants and hangs onto it. Period!

How about the rights of a minority community to survive with their culture and traditions intact? Do they need to be 'children' of a 'higher' God or follow Judeo-Christian morality to qualify? What makes the children of a 'lesser' God to be forgotten and denied the same treatment and privilege that was granted hitherto to the people of East Timor and South Sudan? Could not a U.N.-sponsored plebiscite determine the fate of the Rohingyas of our time to decide for themselves what is best for them – whether they need a protected homeland of theirs or they want to remain part of Myanmar with all their alienable rights granted under the UDHR?

How will our generation be judged by our posterity for letting the genocide of the Rohingya to continue for this long? Shame on us if we fail to stop Rohingya genocide!

-Asian Tribune -