Who Can Help The Rohingya?
A UN report released Monday says that top military officials in Myanmar must be investigated for crimes against the Rohingya people.
It says the Myanmar military has cracked down on the Rohingya, and subjected them to a terrifying regime of mass slaughter and rape. Hundreds of their villages in Rakhine state have been razed. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been forced to escape over the Myanmar border to Bangladesh — a task made all the harder because the Myanmar government will not grant the Rohingya citizenship, making them effectively stateless. These actions are in response to “raids by Rohingya insurgents on several police checkpoints”.
Who are the Rohingya? From The Council on Foreign Relations.
The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority who practice a Sufi-inflected variation of Sunni Islam. There are an estimated 3.5 million Rohingya dispersed worldwide. Before August 2017, the majority of the estimated one million Rohingya in Myanmar resided in Rakhine State, where they accounted for nearly a third of the population. They differ from Myanmar’s dominant Buddhist groups ethnically, linguistically, and religiously.
Myanmar state counsellor and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi has been widely criticized for failing to protect the Rohingya.
“Suu Kyi has done nothing to combat this prejudice,” writes Hannah Beech for The New Yorker. “Her government has denied visas to a United Nations human-rights team charged with investigating the crisis, and international organizations have been prevented from delivering aid.”
Where can the Rohingya seek out aid and accountability? One option is the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC “holds individuals criminally accountable for committing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression,” according to scholar Heidi Nichols Haddad, writing in The Washington Post. The court has 123 countries that have signed on, and the United States is not one of them.
But the BBC’s Jonathan Head says that going to the ICC could be challenging.
“However taking Myanmar to the ICC, as recommended by the [UN] report, is difficult. It is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the court, so a referral to the ICC would need the backing of the permanent five Security Council members – and China is unlikely to agree.”
What can be done to help the Rohingya now and who can help them achieve justice?
Produced by Morgan Givens. Text by Gabrielle Healy.
Sarah Margon, Washington director, Human Rights Watch; @sarahmargon
David Steinberg, Specialist on Burma-Myanmar, distinguished professor of Asian Studies, emeritus, Georgetown University
Gary Bass, Professor of politics and international affairs, Princeton University; @gary_bass
Jason Beaubien, Global health and development correspondent, NPR; @jasonbnpr
Senator Jeff Merkley, Democratic Senator of Oregon
For more, visit https://the1a.org.
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