Rohingya Persecution in Burma: Strategic Embrace to Genocide

An Evolution of Rohingya Persecution in Myanmar: From Strategic Embrace to Genocide is the title of an essay by Alice Cowley, Doctoral Candidate – Queen Mary University of London, and Maung Zarni, Non-Resident Fellow – Sleuk Rith Institute – Permanent Documentation Centre (of Genocide) in Cambodia.

Here is an extract (read the full essay here):

Following hundreds of allegations and coordinated documentation by Rohingya groups of mass killings, mass rape, and destruction of whole villages, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR) sent a team to interview Rohingya refugees who had recently fled to Bangladesh — 70,000 of whom had arrived in four months.

Based on over 200 interviews, OHCR issued a damning Flash Report (Feb 3) complete with harrowing tales of burning elderly Rohingya men alive and slitting children’s throats. The U.N. estimates that Myanmar may have killed as many as 1,000 Rohingya men in recent violence alone. This information, presented at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council, did not result in the much-hoped-and-lobbied-for U.N. Commission of Inquiry with a view towards the International Criminal Court. The result was a compromise — a ‘Fact Finding Mission’ — which both the military and the National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government are determined not to accept or cooperate with.

We have previously argued that far from being a new phenomenon, waves of state-directed violence and communal destruction such as these have been occurring since 1978 and are part of a process of ‘slow-burning genocide.’ Two other independent studies published a year later reinforce our findings.

Over these decades, Rohingya experiences and sufferings have been tossed across multiple discourses that deny the central role of the military such as “communal violence” or since the October 9 raids, “Muslim insurgency” pregnant with potential for escalations involving “international terrorism.” In recent years, these have run concurrently with human rights bodies and organizations framing the situation as “ethnic cleansing” and “crimes against humanity”— U.N. Special Rapporteurs and the OHCHR included.

Despite these shifting narratives, the fundamental nature of the problem has remained constant. The military-controlled state has attempted to “cleanse”the nation of the largest Muslim minority in Myanmar, unique with legitimate claims to Northern Rakhine as their ancestral home.