December 3, 2022



7 min read

HYUNG JUN YOU WRITES – At this very second, the world is enduring a couple of genocide, however certainly none is worse than the plight of the Rohingyas.

Myanmar is a Buddhist majority nation comprised of 135 totally different ethnicities.Whereas there are few ethnic teams that aren’t formally acknowledged by the state, the Rohingyas are one. A Muslim minority group, they’re largely clustered on the Rakhine state, boarding Bangladesh.

In August 25, 2017, the Rohi­ngya rebel group often called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Military (ARSA) attacked 30 Myanmar safety outposts, killing 12 safety personnel in theprocess. The Myanmar army responded instantly, inside hours, and began to focus on Rohingya villages throughout the Rakhine state. Referred to as the “clearance operations,” Myanmar armed forces and safety models drove the Rohingyas out from their houses and subjected them to torture, gang rape, and mass killings, all due to their ethnicity and non secular observe. This resulted within the dying of 10,000 Rohingyas (Report from Worldwide-State Crime Initiative places the dying toll from 20,000 to 25,000) and compelled 725,000 Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh.

That is genocide. There isn’t a different approach to say it. So, the inquiries to ask are: what’s the trigger behind it? How is it that the Myanmar authorities been in a position to successfully suppress therights of their very own individuals? What can america authorities do to punish Myanmar and assist the Rohingya refugees? Or ought to it do nothing?

Myanmar gained independence from Britain in 1948. The soon-formed parliamentary democracy got here to an finish in 1962 when the Myanmar army (Tatmadaw), headed by Basic Ne Win, instigated a coup. Earlier than the coup, primarily based on their 1947 Structure and 1948 Union Citizenship Act, Myanmar had an inclusive citizenship that theoretically included the Rohingyas in Rakhine state. Prime Minster U Nu, the primary Myanmar prime minister below parliamentary democracy, stated in his 1954 radio deal with that the Rohingya’s “are our nationals, our brethren…They’re one of many ethnic races of Burma.” This assertion reveals that the primary civilian authorities no less than tried to create a multi-ethnic nationwide identification. Nonetheless, many authorities officers supported a declare that Rohingyas had been “Bengalis”, in impact, that they had been unlawful immigrants from Bangladesh.

After the coup, the army began to alter how citizenship was issued. Basic Ne Win argued that the citizenship definition below the prior civilian authorities was too broad. This led to the creation of the 1982 Citizenship Regulation, which divided citizenship into three classes: full citizenship, affiliate citizenship, and naturalized citizenship. Full citizenship was assured just for nationwide ethnic teams, of which the Rohingyas weren’t half. Affiliate citizenship was given if the particular person was granted citizenship below the 1948 Act however required additional evaluate below the brand new legislation. Naturalized citizenship was for individuals who can show their residence in Myanmar earlier than independence. Below this legislation, the Rohingyas certified for naturalized and even for affiliate class however in observe, the federal government neglected the Rohingyas. As a substitute they issued Short-term Registration Playing cards (TRC) to the Rohingyas.


The TRC didn’t assure the Rohingyas a pathway to citizenship. It was as an alternative utilized by Tatmadaw to determine the Rohingyas and abuse them. For instance, in 1991 and 1992, Tatmadaw carried out safety operations within the Rakhine state that drove out a whole lot of hundreds of Rohingyas to Bangladesh. Being stateless additionally meant denial of participation within the political course of. This led the federal government to enact much more restrictive legal guidelines in opposition to the Rohingyas, comparable to requiring them to acquire a journey kind from authorities places of work to maneuver from one village to different. Restriction of motion meant lack of job alternatives. This has led to a steady cycle of poverty.

By the Nineties, nonetheless, it appeared just like the army junta was going to step down from energy. They had been turning into extra unpopular among the many Myanmar inhabitants due to their human rights abuses and mismanagement of the financial system. This led to a number of civil uprisings throughout the nation that resulted in deaths. The junta held an election in 1999 that noticed Auug San Suu Kyi’s occasion, the Nationwide League for Democracy (NLD), achieve the bulk vote. The army not solely didn’t honor the election end result and as an alternative slammed Suu Kyi below home arrest.

The world hung onto Aung San Suu Kyi as the one hope for Myanmar. Each President Clinton and Bush imposed heavy financial sanctions on Myanmar and its prime authorities officers to get them to elevate the home arrest order for Suu Kyi and to strain the Tatmadaw to step down from energy. The sanctions had some optimistic impact. The army authorities rewrote the structure in 2008 that partially democratized Myanmar. It created extra checks and balances inside the authorities establishments, inspired freedom of the press, and allowed public protests to be held. Additionally they launched Suu Kyi from home arrest in 2010. In 2015, a free election was held and the NLD received an amazing majority. Regardless that Suu Kyi was barred from operating for president below the 2008 Structure, the newly elected NLD president quickly created a brand new place known as “State Counselor” for Suu Kyi, which made her a de factochief of Myanmar.


These new developments compelled america to the coverage of diplomatic relations with Myanmar. Below the Obama administration, relations between Myanmar and the US improved. Most sanctions had been lifted, which meant overseas firms might make investments simply. In keeping with the World Financial institution, 2010 overseas direct funding (FDI) in Myanmar was $901 million however that quantity tripled to $3.2 billion by 2016. The sudden lifting of sanctions was criticized by many human rights teams, saying Myanmar nonetheless had lengthy methods to go to reform their political course of. Many cited the Rohingya Muslims as a problem that Suu Kyi failed to handle. President Obama acknowledged that downside however thought that over time Suu Kyi and her NLD occasion would cope with ethnic tensions after integrating Myanmar to the worldwide financial system.

Sadly, that didn’t occur. Suu Kyi not solely failed to handle the rising ethnic rigidity however is now complicit within the Rohingya genocide as she has didn’t label the genocide as genocide and has even known as the Rohingya’s, “Bengalis”.

America’s response has been weak. Since 2017, america has imposed focused sanctions on eight people and army teams. Nonetheless, not like earlier US sanctions, these are focused in direction of eight particular people and teams as an alternative of concentrating on the whole Myanmar army or the federal government. It additionally doesn’t embody fast relations of army generals.

The US can re-impose financial and monetary sanctions on Myanmar, and develop the visa ban on Myanmar army generals and their fast relations. The US can do that by the next acts:

  • Customs and Commerce Act of 1990 (Part 138);
  • Overseas Help Act of 1961 (Part 307);
  • The Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003;
  • The Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act of 2008;
  • The International Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2016.

The primary 4 acts reimpose the sanctions put in place by President Clinton and Bush. It’ll block all imports and exports from Myanmar, prohibit FDI flowing into the nation, and goal state-owned enterprises. The ultimate act, The International Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2016 (GMHRA), provides the manager department the facility to enact monetary sanctions and visa bans on overseas people who’re chargeable for human rights violations. This act is a robust device as a result of it doesn’t require congressional approval. Due to this fact, it provides the president immense energy to behave swiftly on overseas people who’re committing human rights violations comparable to extrajudicial killings and genocide. The Trump administration already used GMHRA to sanction few Myanmar generals, however he might do extra and sanction civilian/army authorities officers as effectively. The sanctioned people ought to embody, however not be restricted to:

  • Ye Aung, Minister of Border Affairs;
  • Sein Win, Minister of Protection;
  • Kyaw Swe, Minister of Residence Affairs;
  • Pe Myint, Minister of Info;
  • Win Myint, President of Myanmar;
  • Myint Swe and Henry Van Thio, two Vice Presidents of Myanmar;
  • Kyaw Tint Swe, Minister of State Counsellor’s Workplace.

The phrase ‘genocide’ was coined in 1943 by Raphael Lemkin, a global legislation scholar, as a result of he felt a brand new horrifying vocabulary wanted to exist to explain what occurred to the Armenians and the Jews throughout World Warfare I and II. He thought ‘genocide’ was a simple phrase to say but in addition memorable. His intention was that the phrase can be highly effective sufficient to invoke the horrors of the Holocaust and compel states to behave.

There’s a genocide happening in Myanmar in opposition to the Rohingyas. We should not look away from what’s taking place in Myanmar. We should ask ourselves the identical query Lemkin requested after the Armenian genocide which was, “Why is the killing of 1,000,000 a lesser crime than the killing of a person?”

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