Using the word ‘Genocide’ is a big deal.
Politicians and world leaders are careful to avoid saying it, preferring to use ‘ethnic cleansing’ instead.
Why? Because it is a legally specific and a politically charged word that requires action by the U.N.
Once you say ‘Genocide’, there’s no going back. It’s an accusation of human rights violations and
once a country is accused of committing genocide, the rest of the world is responsible for ending it.
The United Nations first defined genocide in 1948 in The Genocide Convention. The treaty outlines that any of the acts commited with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religous group constitutes as genocide. Below are four acts of the five outlined in the treaty that Myanmar is guilty of commiting.
1. Killing members of the group.
Many U.N. agencies, independent experts, and human rights organizations have reported the Myanmar Army, NaSaKa, and Myanmar Police Force have used lethal violence against Rohingya in Rakhine State. Witnesses have reported state forces joining in on local killings and massacres of Rohingya rather than intervening to protect them.
2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm.
Rohingya women and girls are constantly subjected to rape by the Tatmadaw, NaSaKa, and the Myanmar Police Force. Rape is used as a weapon to control and demean an entire village, as it often takes place inside mosques or in front of children, causing life-long trauma. Torture is also used as a means to erase Rohingya identity. The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention reported the NaSaKa beat and tortured Rohingya until they agreed to register as Bengali.
3. Deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical
destruction in whole or in part.
Besides being displaced from their homes, Rohingya are denied medical care, sanitation, food, and paid labor opportunities. Journalists and human rights organizations have described the IDP camps where 140,000 Rohingyas reside as ‘unlivable ghettos’. Myanmar security forces have prevented Rohingya from leaving the IDP camps to seek jobs, food, or medical assistance.
4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births.
In 1993 and 2005, The Border Region Immigration Control Headquarters and the Township Peace and Development Council of Maungdaw issued population control policies that state the Rohingya population is reproducing faster than “international standards” of population increase. The authorities offered no evidence to support these claims. In order to get married, Rohingya must agree to have no more than two children. Anyone who has more than two children are subject to prison sentences of up to ten years.
September 21, 2017
Macron's use of the word "genocide" marks his strongest verbal attack yet on the military drive against the Rohingya.
September 15, 2016
Nobel Laureates Tawakkol Karman from Yemen, Adolfo Perez Esquivel from Argentina, Desmond Tutu from South Africa, Jody Williams from the United States, Shirin Ebadi from Iran, Leymah Gbawee from Liberia, and Mairead Maguire from Northern Ireland describe the situation of the Rohingya in Burma as a genocide.
September 22, 2017
The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) is an international opinion tribunal, independent from any state authority. It examines cases regarding violations of human rights and the rights of people.
September 28, 2017
What is the importance of the word genocide and why it is a big deal?
October 4, 2017
Scholarly articles that acknowledge the situation in Burma as a Genocide:
University of Washington | June 2014 | by Maung Zarni and Alice Cowley
Harvard Gazette | November 7, 2014 | By Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff Writer
Burma's Rohingya people are being slowly squeezed from their homeland by decades-long government policies that critics say deny them citizenship, health care, work, and schooling, with such tactics punctuated by...