A Coup in Burma: Did Military Seize Power to Avoid ICC Prosecution for Rohingya Genocide?


Amy Goodman and Maung Zarni | Democracy NOW! - TRANSCEND Media Service

3 Feb 2021

We speak with a Burmese dissident about the military coup underway in Burma as de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been arrested. The coup unfolded hours before lawmakers were to take their seats in the opening of parliament, following a November election in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won over 80% of the contested seats in the Burmese parliament and the military made unsubstantiated claims of fraud. Hundreds of lawmakers, activists and human rights defenders have also been detained since the coup, and telecommunications have been cut in parts of Burma, which the military calls Myanmar. “The military decided that they could no longer play this democracy game with Aung San Suu Kyi,” says Maung Zarni, co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition and the Forces of Renewal for Southeast Asia. “The military is completely outfoxed legally, as well as at the polls. That’s why the military decided to wreck the game.” He says the coup could also worsen the outlook for members of the Rohingya Muslim community, who have faced mass detention, killings and expulsion from Burma in a campaign widely recognized as genocide.

A Buddhist humanist from Burma, Maung Zarni is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, former Visiting Lecturer with Harvard Medical School, specializing in racism and violence in Burma and Sri Lanka, and Non-resident Scholar in Genocide Studies with Documentation Center – Cambodia. Zarni s the co-founder of FORSEA, a grass-roots organization of Southeast Asian human rights defenders, coordinator for Strategic Affairs for Free Rohingya Coalition, and an adviser to the European Centre for the Study of Extremism, Cambridge. Zarni holds a PhD (U Wisconsin at Madison) and a MA (U California), and has held various teaching, research and visiting fellowships at the universities in Asia, Europe and USA including Oxford, LSE, UCL Institute of Education, National-Louis, Malaya, and Brunei. He is the recipient of the “Cultivation of Harmony” award from the Parliament of the World’s Religions (2015). His analyses have appeared in leading newspapers including the New York Times, The Guardian and the Times. Among his academic publications on Rohingya genocide are The Slow-Burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingyas (Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal), An Evolution of Rohingya Persecution in Myanmar: From Strategic Embrace to Genocide, (Middle East Institute, American University), and Myanmar’s State-directed Persecution of Rohingyas and Other Muslims (Brown World Affairs Journal). He co-authored, with Natalie Brinham, Essays on Myanmar Genocide.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 8 Feb 2021.

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