UN hears of ‘ongoing’ Myanmar genocide — now what?

UN hears of ‘ongoing’ Myanmar genocide — now what?

By Luke Vargas   
Published
Marzuki Darusman, Chair of the UN Fact-finding Mission in Myanmar, briefs the U.N. Security Council. October 24, 2018. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Marzuki Darusman, Chair of the UN Fact-finding Mission in Myanmar, briefs the U.N. Security Council. October 24, 2018. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The head of a U.N. fact-finding mission reports that Myanmar's military has committed "war crimes and crimes against humanity" against Rohingya Muslims.

UNITED NATIONS — Hear the frustration in the voice of Marzuki Darusman, the chair of the U.N. Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar as he told the Security Council this week of an “ongoing” genocide against the country’s Rohingya Muslims:

“The events in Myanmar could serve as a step-by-step manual: dehumanize a population, call them all terrorists, deprive them all rights, segregate and attack them, rape and kill them, crowd them in IDP camps or drive them out, and protect the killers from justice. These steps can, and almost certainly, will be learned and deployed in other countries and deployed against other populations.”

Recapping an exhaustive 440-page report, Darusman said Myanmar’s predominantly Buddhist security forces were responsible for wiping out hundreds of Rohingya villages in August 2017, and that reports of 10,000 dead Rohingya were conservative.

The atrocities in Myanmar, he said, must be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) immediately.

Allan Cooper is a genocide scholar at North Carolina Central University:

“The only way the International Criminal Court can prosecute for genocide is if the perpetrator is an insignificant group that is not a friend of one of the five superpowers that control the Security Council.”

Myanmar is not one of those insignificant states. It enjoys close ties to Russia and China, both of whom could prevent a referral of the Rohingya genocide to the ICC.

But Dr. Samuel Totten, a presidential scholar at Chapman University, is more optimistic.

Totten gathered victim testimony from the Darfur genocide in the early 2000’s when Sudan enjoyed Russian protection. But Russia wound up referring the Darfur crisis to the ICC, and years later the court sought evidence from Totten’s interviews.

That history, he said, should convince those documenting Myanmar’s genocide and assisting its victims to remain engaged.

“One never knows how this information that’s being collected now is going to be used.”


Audio highlights: Marzuki Darusman’s testimony to the U.N. Security Council on the situation in Myanmar

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