Over a year after the government of Myanmar started its brutal crackdown against the Muslim minority Rohingya, the killings are continuing.
In a tense U.N. Security Council briefing on Wednesday night, Marzuki Darusman, chair of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar, reminded reporters that the killing of Muslim minority Rohingya is “an ongoing genocide that is taking place.”
British U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce added, “The crimes we have heard echo those committed in Rwanda and Srebrenica some twenty years ago. The Security Council acted in those two situations. It acted too late to prevent them which is all to our lasting shame but it did act to ensure accountability.”
It took the U.N. months to even call the massacres “ethnic cleansing” before a horrific mountain of evidence compelled it to use the more serious (and criminal) term for what’s happening: A genocide.
China’s U.N. Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu said the U.N. Security Council shouldn’t “get involved in country-specific human rights issues.”
Since August 2017, when Rohingya insurgents launched a deadly attack on border police posts, the military has unleashed an unrelenting campaign of violence that has seen thousands of Rohingya killed, hundreds of their villages burned, and over 700,000 fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh, where they live in refugee camps.
Survivors have spoken of being starved, raped, and watching their families — including children — shot, hacked, or burned to death.
Prior this campaign, some 1.1 million Rohingya lived in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where they had virtually no rights and no freedom of movement. They are often referred to as “Bengalis” and aren’t even named by officials there, who claim they don’t exist as a ethnicity.
Darusman said that the Rohingya who remain in Myanmar’s Rakhine state are “at grave risk” and any kind of repatriation of those who have fled “is tantamount to condemning them to life as sub-humans and further mass killing.”
In other words, returning Rohingya before there is any kind of process to ensure their safety and their basic human rights would only serve to give Myanmar the license to finish the job.
The U.N. inquiry’s report called for an arms embargo on and sanctions against Myanmar, as well as creating a tribunal to try suspects or forward them to the International Criminal Court.
China and Russia will likely veto any attempt at sanctions and arms embargoes.
Myanmar rejects the findings presented by the U.N. report, with its U.N. Ambassador Hau Do Suan saying the government is “willing and able to take on the accountability issues for any alleged human rights violation where there is sufficient evidence.”