We commend the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights for recognising that “[t]he ethnic cleansing of Rohingya from Myanmar continues”.
The violent eradication of the ethnic minority is ongoing despite a wall of denial by the Myanmar government as its seeks to evade international punishment. Bangladesh is now hosting practically the entire Rohingya populace on its soil. Meanwhile the Myanmar government has deployed its army along our border, a step that can have only two purposes. First, it is plainly a pre-emptive measure to prevent Rohingya returning to their homes in Myanmar, despite an existing bilateral agreement for their repatriation signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Second and more ominously, it signals preparations to push the Rohingya who remain in Myanmar’s Rakhine state into Bangladesh.
The international community – with the notable exception of Nay Pyi Taw’s ally Beijing – has repeatedly condemned the atrocities taking place in Rakhine. Yet, despite irrefutable evidence in satellite photos of Rohingya villages being pillaged and destroyed, so far the global response has halted at statements of condemnation. That will have no effect on a government willing to stoop to ethnic cleansing.
As Myanmar continues to thumb its nose at the United Nations by refusing to let in neutral observers to see for themselves what is happening in Rakhine, how long will it be before the world’s inaction convinces the Myanmar government that it faces no serious threat in terms of punitive sanctions? Is that the message the world community is giving to Myanmar? That it will stand by and permit wholesale persecution of a community more than a million strong?
Myanmar has succeeded in its campaign of mass eradication through violence and murder, evading punishment from the international community. Other authoritarian regimes across the world will take note.