Renowned Burmese Genocide Scholar & Rights Activist Sounds Rohingya Genocide Warning on BBC


Maung Zarni | FORSEA – TRANSCEND Media Service

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Dr Maung Zarni, the co-author of the 2014 study “The Slow-burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya” told the BBC World Service Newsday on 22 May 2024 that the genocidal process is unfolding again in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, albeit the principal perpetrators are ultra-nationalist Arakan Army of ethnic Rakhins.

23 May 2024 – Zarni adds his voice to the growing chorus of those warning of genocide, such as former UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Professor Yanghee Lee, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk, and ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, as well as a number of Rohingya human rights organizations such as the Free Rohingya Coalition and Burmese Rohingya Organization UK.

The renowned scholar and activist also offered his comprehensive analysis of the countrywide violent conflicts between Myanmar’s embattled junta and hundreds of anti-junta armed organisations. While stressing his personal support for the people’s armed struggle against the military regime – in power for 6-decades since 1962 – Dr Zarni ruled out a Zero Sum military defeat of the junta by the resistance forces. He calls on powerful Asian neighbors such as India, China, Thailand, and Bangladesh directly effected by the spillover of the war in Myanmar to hold a joint international peace conference in the region to work out a comprehensive peace framework encompassing the entire Myanmar.

Zarni emphasised, “there needs to be a safe exit for Myanmar junta. They have nowhere to go, (unlike the previous repressive regimes in pre-independence Burma such as the British colonials and the Japanese Fascists). He spoke to the BBC from the sidelines of the genocide conference – The Future of Cambodia without Genocide – at the former Khmer Rouge Tribunal, jointly hosted by the Office of the Prime Minister of Cambodia and the Documentation Center – Cambodia. At the conference, former Prime Minister Hun Sen who has been pushing for a peace process of a sort in Myanmar, without much success so far, sounded alarm about Israel’s killing of innocent people in Gaza everyday.

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A Buddhist humanist from Burma (Myanmar), 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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