One Year Anniversary of Rohingya Genocide Shows Existential Crisis
Burma Task Force commends the United Nations investigators for their report today that makes quite clear that the violent repression of the Rohingya minority has reached to the level of genocide, and requires referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The United Nations Security Council must refer this matter to the ICC when it meets to discuss the genocide tomorrow, and not fail once again to act.
This ongoing failure to prevent or stop genocide is an existential question, not only for the Rohingya minority, but also for the UN itself. If the Security Council fails to act out of fear that certain nations will veto the decision, the system is broken. It is time for action, not only in the Council but in the General Assembly. A failure to act is a betrayal of the UN Charter.
For the first anniversary of the Rohingya genocide this past weekend the international community showed their solidarity with Rohingya in cities around the world. At the same time tens of thousands of Rohingya children rallied in the refugee camps, wearing school uniforms as a symbol of access to education and normal life that they have been denied.
And yet, this weekend the US Secretary of State Pompeo was still referring to the situation in terms of "ethnic cleansing" instead of genocide. While his concern is appreciated, one wonders if the government of the United States is unwilling to challenge China's protection of genocide, or if our policymakers are simply not interested in the lives of refugees that happen to be Muslim?
The softer, weaker approach favored by some American diplomats has not been successful. The government of Myanmar is far from any willingness to accept criticism or exert accountability mechanisms over its military. Much more pressure is needed, including stronger more comprehensive sanctions. Those that block action, such as Senate Speaker Mitch McConnell, are complicit to genocide. It is time to honor the heritage of American values and stop making excuses for mass atrocities.