It could all be about to kick off in Myanmar. But this time in a good way for the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. Possibly. Hopefully.
It seems that the UN is finally getting serious about the ethnic cleansing of this community that has been going on since 2012. Last month, the world body appointed a group of experts to the Southeast Asian nation in the hope of having them probe human rights abuses suffered by the Rohingya at the hands of the military junta. Yet Aung San Suu Kyi — the country’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning figurehead — has rejected the mission. On the grounds that it would ignite communal tensions. Not long ago, of course, she was the poster girl for peaceful resistance of the most stoic and dignified kind. Today she wears the hat of the oppressor and seems to find the fit just perfect.
True to form she has this week stamped her foot down on UN hopes of entering the country. On the grounds that such a move would ignite communal tensions. Apparently, only an independent mission headed by a certain Mr Kofi Annan will do. That is, the man whom the world body, if it had any bite left at all, would have long ago seen tried for war crimes over his failure to stop Iraq; before then deciding to keep calm and push the issue of illegal aggression under the plushest of carpets.
Yet there is some silver lining to be had. If one is prepared to, like, really squint. The BBC reported yesterday — the same day that Suu Kyi rejected the UN probe — that the world body is removing its top official to the country. While the latter has claimed the move is simply a routine matter, insisting that she has come to the end of her three-year stint there. The BBC, however, reported anonymous diplomatic and aid sources as saying otherwise. That is, there has been talk of the mission under her stewardship as being “glaringly dysfunctional”, focusing more on establishing ties with the junta than trying to implement mechanisms to safeguard the Rohingya.
We sincerely hope that her removal, if that is, indeed, what it is — is not a case of too little too late. Some academics have termed the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya as “genocide in progress”, contending that this community is already suffering the four stages of genocide. These being: stigmatisation, harassment, isolation, systematic weakening and then, ultimately mass annihilation. No one has ever been prosecuted, let alone jailed, for the ongoing ethnic cleansing.
At this stage, all we can do is hope that the UN is verbally aggressive in its response to having its fact-finding mission kicked out even before it arrived. Let us also hope that it is equally vocal in not accepting an independent inquiry overseen by Mr Annan. And let us, finally hope against hope that the world will now get serious about the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar.*