Burma/Myanmar: Expert Warns of Rohingya Genocide

ASIA--PACIFIC, 10 Dec 2012

Al Jazeera – TRANSCEND Media Service

“Warning signs” are in place for a genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, an Al Jazeera investigation has been told by a leading expert in the field.

According to Professor William Schabas, until recently President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, the findings of an Al Jazeera documentary reveal that “we’re moving into a zone where the word can be used”.

In June, Myanmar state media reported 78 deaths during sectarian violence between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities. The Al Jazeera team discovered that official statements provided only a small part of what took place.

Instead, Rohingya testify suffering systematic torture, ethnic cleansing and execution-style killings. The program found evidence of at least two mass graves and the deliberate murder of minors, some of whom were burnt alive. The program includes eyewitness accounts of the extra-judicial killings of more than 200 people during five days in June.

The Hidden Genocide also provides compelling evidence that the killings were at times carried out with the support and participation of the Myanmar military, state security forces and local government officials.

Amongst the findings are:

  • The location of a mass grave of 35 people, 25 of them children. Most had been shot as they fled by soldiers from Myanmar’s national army as well as paramilitaries from a border security force, known as NaSaKa.
  • An eyewitness watched as around 100 bodies were dumped from a truck and buried in marshland by security services.
  • Accounts describe security forces traveling through Rohingya districts throwing bottles of gasoline onto houses and setting them alight.
  • One man described how up to 40 religious scholars were brought to the yard of a mosque and summarily executed. They were accused of being ‘troublemakers’.
  • A 12-year old girl watched as 5 of her cousins – all younger than her – were picked up by security forces and thrown into large fires.
  • There is evidence of torture and arbitrary arrest. One man who was severely beaten saw six corpses in the local police station.
  • Al Jazeera spoke to one woman who was raped,according to medical records by more than 20 men

The Hidden Genocide discovers a secret memorandum written in 1988 by Rakhine nationalists. It sets out policies aimed at restricting the ability of the Rohingya to travel freely, to prevent their access to tertiary education and for controlling their birth rate. There are today obstacles to prevent marriage within the ethnic group, including the requirement of a large payment to allow a legal marriage or be threatened with five years’ imprisonment.

The election in 2010 of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) has placed in the state government a leadership that denies the existence of the Rohingya as an ethnic group. The party leader, Dr Aye Maung, has repeatedly said that the people who call themselves Rohingya should be deported from the land of their birth to third countries.

Dr Aye Chan, a Rakhine historian based in Japan has returned for the first time to Myanmar since 1988 and is at the forefront of a body of quasi-academic material that denies the existence of the Rohingya race, claiming they are ‘a fabricated people’.

According to Prof. Schabas, one of the foremost experts on international criminal law, “We’re moving into a zone where the word can be used (in the case of the Rohingya). When you see measures preventing births, trying to deny the identity of the people, hoping to see that they really are eventually, that they no longer exist, denying their history, denying the legitimacy of the right to live where they live, these are all warning signs that mean that it’s not frivolous to envisage the use of the term genocide.”

The findings are the result of a four-month investigation into events in western Myanmar this June 2012. It is produced by British filmmaker Phil Rees.

To request a review copy of the documentary please email the Al Jazeera Press Office .

go to Original – aljazeerapressoffice.com


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One Response to “Burma/Myanmar: Expert Warns of Rohingya Genocide”

  1. satoshi says:

    Why does the international community ignore or overlook this? Or what is the international community doing? It is highly likely that what is being done against Rohingya Muslims constitutes “genocide” as stipulated in the Genocide Convention. At least, an international human rights monitoring team should be sent to the site where Rohingyas reside.

    Can TRANSCEND organize a human rights monitoring team for that purpose? Or can TRANSCEND start lobbying activity to urge some (or all) of the UNSC Member countries to discuss the human rights situation of Rohingyas in Burma? Hurry up. Do not waste time. Time is money? Not only money. Time is life!

    Note that Burma is a State Party to the Genocide Convention. Burma ratified the Convention. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_parties_to_the_Genocide_Convention

    For your reference:

    Some essential articles in the Genocide Convention (= the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948)

    Article 1
    The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

    Article 2
    In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    (a) Killing members of the group;
    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

    Article 3
    The following acts shall be punishable:

    (a) Genocide;
    (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
    (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
    (d) Attempt to commit genocide;
    (e) Complicity in genocide.