UN Human Rights Council calls for Myanmar genocide trial

Joshua Schuetz
Staff Writer

Investigators from the United Nations Human Rights Council have called for Myanmar to be punished for committing genocide against the Rohingya people, a Muslim ethnic minority centered in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

According to a report from Reuters, investigators determined that top generals in Myanmar should be prosecuted for war crimes. Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is facing blame for the attacks on the Rohingya.

Many Rohingya have been driven from their villages by the military, on the grounds of preventing terrorism. While there have been reports of radicalization in the Rakhine State, they are sparse.

The military has even stooped to the level of raping and massacring women and children, utilizing state terrorism as a means of intimidating and attacking civilians.

According to Radhika Coomeraswamy, a member of the U.N. panel who Reuters interviewed, “The scale, brutality and systematic nature of rape and (sexual) violence indicate that they are part of deliberate strategy to intimidate, terrorize or punish the civilian population. They are used as a tactic of war,”.

In addition to physical violence, the Rohingya are also systematically discriminated against. They are denied citizenship. Buddhist nationalist groups, such as the 969 Movement, have stirred up resentment and racism against the Rohingya.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, at least 700,000 Rohingya have fled the country within the past year.

Myanmar’s military, which bears the lion’s share of the blame for the genocide, has been described as being above the law by investigators and reporters. However, civilian authorities have aided and abetted the violence, by not speaking out against it and by refusing to pass any legislation that might stop the military’s actions.

In addition to state terrorism, the chaos and violence have also created opportunities for human traffickers. In June 2018, a report from the U.S. State Department stated that refugees were being exploited by human traffickers. Those in camps near the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh were especially vulnerable, according to CNN.

Members of the U.N. panel have also accused social media websites, especially Facebook, of being complicit in the crisis. The report stated that “Although improved in recent months, Facebook’s response has been slow and ineffective. The extent to which Facebook posts and messages have led to real-world discrimination and violence must be independently and thoroughly examined,”.

Amongst the human rights and aid organizations working to help the Rohingya are UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, and the International Rescue Committee.

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