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The Unheard Victims of Rohingya Genocide

3 mins read

by Jaafar Siddiqui

Rohingyas have continuedly persecuted and marginalized…

A report published by United Nations (UN) investigators in August 2018 accuses Myanmar’s military of carrying out mass killings and rapes with “genocidal intent”, but the United States (U.S.) government hasn’t declared Rohingyas as the victim of Genocide.

“When you see a genocide, when you document a genocide, anywhere in the world, and the evidence is clear, then you ought to say it, as a starting point”, said Mr. Posner, now an ethics and finance professor and director of the Centre for Business and Human Rights at New York University.

On 11th November 2019, the Gambia filed a lawsuit against the Republic of the Union Myanmar in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the bases of genocidal allegations. On 23rd of January at the request of the Gambia, the ICJ ordered the government of Myanmar to take immediate actions to protect the Rohingya while the case proceedings continue.

Rohingya is a distinct Muslim ethnic group in Rakhine sate of Myanmar. Rohingya have their own language and culture and believe that they are the descendants of Arab traders from the past and have been in the region for centuries.

In 2014, after 30 years, Myanmar partnered with the UN population fund for its census and the questionnaire used for survey consisted of a list supposedly to identify the ethnicities, but the list was from 1982 and it consisted the names of 135 ethnic groups which didn’t include Rohingya.

Initially the government promised they would let Rohingya register through the ‘Other’ option. Two days into the renumeration process the international workers fled as they were attacked by the Buddhist mobs. The government decided not to reinforce counting in the region on the security grounds and Rohingya went uncounted making them very stateless.

There have been instances of violence in the past as well. In 2012, violence erupted between ethnic Rakhines and Rohingyas and the conflict resulted in involvement of security forces and 140,000 people mostly Rohingyas, being detained in government-built camps. 

It can be established from the past incidents that Rohingyas have not been accepted by the government as the equal citizens with equal rights. Rohingyas have continuedly persecuted and marginalized, a Bangkok- based human rights organizations names this a deliberate state designed ‘policies of persecution’.

The hate against Rohingyas is deliberately spread through Facebook, Reuters found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments and pornographic images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims on Facebook. In aBBC interview with a Village Administrator in Rakhine, he described Rohingyas in one word ‘Terrorist’.

Over a million Rohingya have fled the violence in Myanmar since 1990s, and the latest exodus began on 25th August 2017 when violence broke out in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. According to the UN refugee agency’s report more than 742,000 left Myanmar to seek refuge in Bangladesh, mostly arrived in the first three months of the violence. The routes to the place of persecution were blocked, so it was not possible for the international aid organizations to reach out for help as well.

“They burnt our house and drove us out by shooting. We walked for three days through the jungle”, said Mohammed, who fled to Bangladesh with his family of seven, including a baby born along the way.

In March-April 2018, the highly trained and experienced investigators on the PILPG investigation team collected 1,024 interviews from a representative sample of Rohingya refugees across all the refugee camps. After the investigation and carefully reviewing, a 15,000 pages of documentation from those interviews ultimately identified more than 13,000 instances of documented human rights violations including indiscriminate killings, mass killings, executions, rapes, gang rapes, beatings, mutilations and many other such acts.

Trump administration didn’t declare Rohingya as the victims of genocide, however he sanctioned the military leaders involved in the genocide. Many human rights agencies are pushing President Biden to declare them as the victims of the Genocide.

Jaafar Siddiqui earned Bachelors in Journalism from the University of Hertfordshire — United Kingdom. He writes for The Milli Chronicle on Business, Politics, and Culture.

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