The scrupulously conservative UN has finally issued a report calling for the military leadership in Myanmar, including the Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, to be investigated and prosecuted on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for the ‘clearance operations’ against the Rohingya in Rakhine state.
International observers and NGOs have been trying to draw attention to Rakhine state for years, and many of us have been calling the situation of the Rohingya a ‘slow motion genocide’ for just as long. But now that the overwhelming majority of the Rohingya population in Myanmar has been pushed over the border to Bangladesh through a coordinated military campaign in the space of just one year, now that it is too late to prevent it or redress it, international legal definitions and the UN have finally caught up.
The path to actual prosecution for the orchestrators of this genocide is long and uncertain. China is expected to block proceedings through the UN Permanent Security Council to refer the country and parts of its government to the International Criminal Court, but prosecution can still be pursued for specific individuals such as those identified in the UN report in ad hoc international tribunals such as those used in the former Yugoslavia, provided Myanmar cooperates. Or, in other words, provided Aung San Suu Kyi, as democratically elected leader of the civilian government in the country, cooperates with the tribunals.
Complicit to the abuses
The path to actual prosecution for the orchestrators of this genocide is long and uncertain.Azeem Ibrahim