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Alia Al Hazami: We are seeing a Rwanda-like genocide in Myanmar
September 11, 2017
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Suu Kyi did not do much to speak for the Rohingya... Revoking her Nobel Peace Prize seems like a step that should be taken in the future. If anything, it is a distraction from helping innocent victims.

Exclusive to The Gulf Today

A couple of days ago, I came across a petition demanding for the Nobel Peace Prize won by Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar, to be revoked. What caused this controversy is the attack on the largely Muslim Rohingya population situated in Myanmar by the military of Myanmar. The military has been torturing and killing the population while burning their villages to ashes.

More than 3,000 people were killed, and the number is on the rise. Suu Kyi did not do much to speak for the Rohingya. In fact, she claimed that the international condemnation of the situation is triggered by misinformation.

Regardless of what the ‘correct information’ may be, there is zero justification for the killing of thousands of innocent people. The army on the other hand calls their action a “clearance operation” aimed at rebel Rohingya who attacked and killed 12 officers in August. Still, I fail to see how thousands of people are responsible for the aforementioned incident. What is interesting, however, is the choice of words presented. Myanmar’s army does not sugarcoat its words; it blatantly states that it is committing clearance, or in other words, genocide.

As defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide authored in 1948, a genocide is defined as “any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” The military of Myanmar seems to be committing more than one of the crimes mentioned above, and Suu Kyi is not doing anything to help her people, yet the international system remains to be silent.

Instead of using their voices, a petition for a title has been created. Putting things in perspective, revoking Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize seems like a step that should be taken in the future. I am not undermining the importance of stripping her from the award, but it should not be the first thing that one thinks of. One must call for international organisations and powers of the world to interfere before Rohingya are no more. Confiscating the prize would add nothing to Rohingya in the mean time. If anything, it is a distraction from helping innocent victims. This reality Rohingya face is nothing new, they have been deprived of basic human needs for decades, but the genocide is highlighting their struggle.

According to the European Commission, a huge number of Rohingya are fleeing Myanmar to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, but this is not sudden. Between 2014 and 2015, around 94,000 people, who were mostly Rohingya, have fled Myanmar on boat journeys, often becoming victims of human trafficking and slavery. Now, since August, 120,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar. The crisis is a big issue, not because it could potentially cause instability in the region, but because actual human lives are being lost. Myanmar does not only kill innocent people, its actions are not allowing aid to the victims. The nation state blocked the United Nations’ aid to civilians caught in the Rohingya crisis.

We are currently witnessing another Rwanda situation in silence, making those who can act culprits. The world seems to have failed to learn from its previous actions, as it is doing nothing to avoid such atrocities. The death toll is rising, people are internally displaced in what they call their home, they are not given their rights as citizens, and they cannot receive aid that could potentially save their lives. It is time for Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the United Nations alike to build pressure and force the international system to act. The media continues to favour and prioritise certain catastrophes over others. Now that the issue at hand is finally under the spotlight, we must act urgently. We must use our voices and platforms to speak up, offer help, and donate. We must use the digital age to aid those truly in help. The world cannot sit in silence and accept genocides.

The author is the writer of “Alatash,” a columnist, and an
International Studies and English Literature student at AUS.
Twitter: @aliaalhazami

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