*Screen grab of Burmese soldiers brutalising Rohingya Muslims
There is perhaps nothing that shows the hypocrisy of liberal democracy more than the picture of Rohingya Muslims huddled beneath plastic sheets narrating accounts of burning homes, babies being beheaded and women raped by groups of Buddhist soldiers, while their leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, once the darling of human rights organisations and liberal democratic governments the world over, not only denies that these pictures and videos are telling the truth, but brands all those seeking justice for the persecuted Rohingya as “terrorists”.
In fact, it is within the framework of the ‘War on Terror’ that the wholescale ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims is taking place. Suu Kyi justifies the illegal actions of the Buddhist terror squads by saying that those they are killing and displacing are “terrorists”, a ridiculous notion since they include the elderly and babies.
Remaining silent in the face of this hypocrisy is an astounding indictment for the perpetrators of the ‘War on Terror’. those Western nations whose military incursions have killed civilians and therefore set the bar at a level where the actions of the Myanmar government appear excusable within the parameters of this apparently never-ending ‘war’.
As Israel ships more guns, boats and tanks to the militant Buddhist regime and the US refrains from acknowledging the atrocities, the British government, too, has maintained a deathly silence on what is fast emerging as a bloody and heinous campaign of collective punishment which has been described by Queen Mary University’s International State Crime Initiative as “in the final stages” of genocide.
The UN has been blocked by the Myanmar government from giving food to the Rohingya refugees and recently its top United Nations human rights official Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the treatment of Rohingya by Myanmar “appears to be a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing”.
Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan labelled it a “genocide” and despite this has managed to negotiate Turkey access to provide the Rohingya with the food and medical attention they so desperately need.
It is human nature to ask why people must suffer so much, but in the suffering of the Rohingya and in their desperate situation, there are perhaps some lessons to be learned.
The darling of democracy turns into a demon – sound familiar?
Aung San Suu Kyi, the de factor leader of Burma, was put into power through a concerted pro-democracy global movement, cheered out of house arrest and into leadership by Amnesty International, and its plethora of human rights partners and supportive liberal democratic governments.
She has been spectacular in her denial. Calling those who urge justice for the Rohingya “terrorists” (which presumably includes some members of the UN itself), Suu Kyi has followed US President Donald Trump’s toxic example of calling all news unfavourable to them – even if it quite obviously stems from the narratives of the survivors of their violence – “fake news” or the oft-repeated trope, “terrorism”.
Not only being a poor attempt to evade responsibility for hate, her pronouncements, like Trump’s, are only an indictment of herself. The subsequent erosion of justice is as much due to her impunity as it is to the lack of challenge provided by a media absolved under the ‘War on Terror’ from its accounting role.
With such pronouncements in the face of truth, fewer and fewer people believe in mainstream media, and the truth will emerge and has emerged from alternative sources of information. Her true colours – and those of her ilk – are being inked through the pen of a new emerging media, and appear in stark reality to the world.
A history of oppression reaches a crescendo
Violence against the Rohingya is not a recent phenomenon and has been going on since the Burmese government was instated by colonial powers in 1948.
But in recent years the violence has reached a crescendo. The South African based organisation Protect the Rohingya co-authored a report in 2014 entitled ‘Hear our Screams’, which traced the violence against the Muslims as following the eight stages of genocide as posited by Genocide Watch.
The report, which relied on on-the-ground accounts from the region, states that: “In September of 2013, the Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention concluded a report stating that the risk of genocide or related mass atrocities in Burma, especially against the Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine state, is extremely high.” Four years later, the current situation now sees violence of an unspeakable nature being committed against innocent people, and over 100,000 fleeing people.
A return to justice is needed for peace
In light of the inaction of governments around the world, a grassroots movement of protest demanding action has emerged and must continue to pressurise governments to act.
In order to prevent inevitable chaos, there must be a return to justice and accountability. All those who have perpetrated violence against civilians in this ‘War on Terror’ must be held accountable.
We must speak up against this, while sustaining calls for justice and pressure on governments in our own ways and as much as we are able. Hope must not be lost.
CC image courtesy of UN Women Asia and the Pacific on Flickr
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