by Dr. Firoz Mahboob Kamal
‘Genocide’ is the cruelest and most violent form of crime against humanity. It targets people through arson, rape, torture and total annihilation purely based on race, religion and language. Therefore, no one needs to do any wrong for becoming the definitive target of genocide. His or her faith, race, language or religion is enough to invite the worst type of murderous thugs, robbers and rapists at their doorstep.
The case of Rohigya Muslims is the perfect example of that. It is indeed a violent expression of the very fast growing metastasizing moral cancer. Now it appears that the cancer has deeply affected not only the whole civil and military institutions of Myanmar, but also the country’s Buddhist monks, the political elites, the intelligentsia, the media and a large section of the common people.
Because of such a tsunamic scale of the moral disease, on Oct. 30 2017, tens of thousands of Burmese people assembled on the streets of Yangon –the former capital of Myanmar, to show full support for the Army. It was indeed a huge homage to the Army for the execution of its policy of killing, raping and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims.
When a moral cancer is not treated at its early phase, its rapid spread cause massive number of deaths, rapes and arsons on earth. During Hitler era in Germany, the same moral cancer could quickly engulf all of Europe- it led to a devastating World War. Because of it, more than 60 million people had to die. Moral disease thus proved to more catastrophic than any physical illness. In fact, no other physical illness could cause such a massive and rapid destruction of life and wealth –as done by this moral disease.
In Rakhine state of Myanmar, the same moral cancer is showing its destructive and de-humanizing power. It could cause the “textbook case of ethnic cleansing” and the “fasting growing refugee” on earth.
The disease could also get embedded inside the United Nations (UN) and its powerful stakeholders like the USA, Russia and China. The disease could kill the moral authority and the sense of perception of the leaders of the UN and the affected states. As a consequence, even the most visible symptoms of genocide in Arakan could stay unnoticed in their moral radar. This is why, a robust form of genocide could continue for decades in broad day light. These world leaders showed, how easy it is to condemn a dead Hitler, but difficult to avoid close collaboration with the living ones.
The UN and these controlling states failed similarly and terribly in the case of genocide in Bosnia, Rwanda and Cambodia. In fact, the crime of genocide by the Myanmar Army and the crime of inaction by the UN and its stakeholders continued side by side for decades. The recent declaration of support by China, Russia, India and Japan for the Myanmar government has indeed added more fuel to the ongoing genocide. As a direct consequence of such patronisation, the Rohingya villages continue to burn. And the Rohingya people continue to get raped, killed or evicted from them home to Bangladesh.
The word ‘genocide’ was coined with genos (Greek: birth, kind, race) and an English suffix –cide by Raphael Lemkin in his book “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe” in 1944. Now, almost all international bodies of law label a crime as ‘genocide’ while a state and state sponsored perpetrators of the crime incorporate the “intent to destroy” a population of dissimilar race, language, religion or geographical identity in their operational objective of the crime. In fact, such an intent to destroy the Rohingya Muslims is not hidden in the ruling circle and among the nationalists Buddhists of Myanmar. It is indeed clearly visible in all the anti-Rohingya policy of persecution of the civil and military institutions of Myanmar government.
Only in three weeks, ethnic cleansing of more than half a million Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine state, killing of more than 3,000 and raping thousands of Rohingya women and girls are the robust expression of such a genocidal intent. Here, the selection of the target for physical extermination, rape and torture are made only on race and religion. And the scale of killing and eviction are conducted only to achieve the stipulated target of elimination of Rohigya Muslims in Myanmar. So, it needs little intelligence or research to uncover the real motive of the perpetrators. Even a Rohingya child can see that. This is why, the Rohingya men, women and children are fleeing from Myanmar amidst harsh difficulties only to save their life.
Even the Head of UN Human Rights Commission had to describe it as the test book example of ethnic cleansing. Therefore, how such a crime of ethnic cleansing can be de linked from the crime of genocide?
Cleansing of a race, religion or ethnicity always operates through massive arson, gang rape, mass killing and forced eviction. In Myanmar, all these genocidal tools are being used against the Rohingya Muslims.
The UN Human Rights report stated that the Rohingya Muslims are the most persecuted minority on earth. But how such a worst persecution aimed at a single ethnic and religious community could be different from a planned genocide?
All the genocidal crimes in human history gave birth to wholesale migration –as happened in the case of the Red Indians, the German Jews and the Bosnian Muslims. That is happening with the fastest possible speed in the case of Rohingya Muslims, too. This is why, the UN Security General Antonio Guterres had to say that they are the fastest growing refugee in human history. Only a highly motivated genocidal regime in Myanmar could carry out such a man-made disaster of an epic proportion.
The Conceptual Basis of Genocide
For every genocide, some toxic ideologies, an extreme form moral sickness and a paranoid mind-set must work together to prepare the ground for that. Only because of deep ideological, political and cultural perversion in a huge section of population, Hitler’s gas chambers could operate in broad day light on an industrial scale in the heart of so-called civilized Europe. Only because of such conceptual cum ideological shift towards evil, the criminal herds of Europe could give birth to so many evil ideologies like colonialism, imperialism, fascism, communism, and racism in the past. The colonial wars, the occupational wars, the World Wars, the cold wars, ethnic cleansing and other tools of pure evil could also flourish on the same perverted conceptual premise.
It is significant to note that such a perverted psyche still survives. Therefore even today, those who carry the legacy of the colonial crimes take pride in that. This is why, on November 2, the British Prime Minister Theresa May could join the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to celebrate hundred years of Balfour Declaration –the pure evil of British colonialism, that caused so many wars, so many deaths and evictions through illicit creation of Israel.
In the past, people with such perverted colonial psych did not feel any shame or remorse for the most genocidal massacre of the Red Indians of America, the Aborigines of Australis and the Maoris of New Zealand. Rather, they thought such crimes as the part of their civilizational mission! The Burmese nationalists –like the ideological Nazi cousins have taken the same route.
Today, the moral, ethical and political ill health of the world leaders looks seldom any better or different from that of the genocidal colonial past. Because of the same conceptual base of genocide, the same genocide still continues on an industrial scale; only the tools, the targets and the venues are different.
Instead of gas chambers, the new tools are the barrel bombs, cluster bombs, mother of all bombs, depleted uranium bombs, drones, and missiles. These are being deployed to commit the same crime with the same cruelty. As a result, hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi cities and villages are turned to rubbles by the US and the Russian bombers. More than a million are killed. And about 6 million Syrians and Iraqis are made refugees. Now, Muslims are the new target. Arakan, Syria, Iraq, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Xinjiang and many other Muslim lands are the new killing fields.
The Visible Evidence of the Genocide
No crime can hide its crime-site, motive and evidences. That is equally true for the genocide in Myanmar. The most important proof of any genocide is the genocidal intent of the perpetrators. In Myanmar, the perpetrators of the crime operate in such a strong anti-Muslim hatred of the local people, the media and the Buddhist monks that they never felt any need to hide their motive. Nor do they need to stay underground for committing the crime. Therefore, the motive of the crime is clearly visible. The perpetrators of the crime are also well identified. They are the ruling elites of the government, the Army, the Buddhist nationalist monks and the Islamophobic political cadres.
The motive of these people is to uproot the Rohimgya Muslims from their birth place. In fact, both the civil and military wings of the ruling ultra nationalists are operating with the same motive. Besides, they have a strong delusional base to support that motive. The existence of the Muslims in Rakhine state, is perceived as the existential threat to the Burmese Buddhists.
The whole genocidal crime against the Rohingya Muslims operates on such a sick, hateful and delusional concept. Because of that, inside Myanmar, there exists no sympathy for this most persecuted minority on earth. Rather, ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims through arson, mass slaughter, gang rape and forced eviction enjoys huge popularity among the cadre of the ruling party, the Army, the Buddhist monks, the political cadres and the general public.
If 1.2 million Rohigya Muslims are evicted from their farm lands, gardens, homes, businesses, and community institutions like mosques and madrasa, the local Burmese people will get the opportunity to grab these Muslim properties without any hindrance. This is why, the genocidal intent against the Muslims enjoys a popular base in Myanmar. Such a huge economic temptation pulls people to the crime scene to actively engage in the crime. Thus, the anti-Muslim campaign is being used as a tool of mass-scale robbery, raping, arson and killing against Muslims.
In the past, the same happened in America against the Red Indians and in Nazi Germany against the Jews. Therefore, it raises little wonder that on Oct. 29, a huge rally was held in Yangon –the former capital of Myanmar, to celebrate the large scale eviction of the Rohigya Muslims and to show their support for the Army, sited from Al Jazeera. Because of such an evil motive, a cataclysmic crime against the Rohingya Muslims could run for decades with the public support. But the UN and world leaders continue to commit their own crime of silence and inaction, too. It is indeed an extreme form of moral collapse as well as the worst form of leadership failure that even the worst genocidal regime in Myanmar could enjoy support from so many states. Such supportive leaders for the genocidal state have indeed proven that they are the part of the same moral disease.
The success of the state-run genocidal scheme in Arakan is huge. It is easily visible from drastic downsizing the Muslim population there. In this traditionally Muslim majority state of Rakhine, the Muslims have been reduced to a minority. Now two-third population are the Burmese Buddhist. In 1952, the Rohingya Muslims were 1.2 million- source: Countdown to Annihilation: Genocide in Myanmar, a research study of London’s Queen Mary University, 2015. Now they have a population of 1.1 million. There has been a 8% reduction in Rohingya population in last 65 years. Whereas, in the same period of time, the population in Bangladesh showed a more than 4 folds increase. In Pakistan, the increase was 6 folds. (As per census of 1951, the population of former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was 42 million; and in 2017 it is estimated to be 170 million. As per same census in 1951, the population was 33.7 million in former West Pakistan; and in 2017, it is 207 million).
Genocide: The Literal Meaning & Execution
The UN General Assembly’s resolution passed on Dec. 9, 1948 was brought into effect on Jan. 12, 1951 (Resolution 260 (III)), specified the definition of genocide in following terms: “Any of the acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or religious group; killing members of a group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to its members; deliberately inflicting on their conditions of life, calculated to bring about the group’s 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. It is also the intended and the coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of the national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be to disintegrate the political and social institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of the national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.”
In 2002, Article 6 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court assigned almost similar narrative for the crime of genocide. It stated that “genocide” means any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. As per above definition, the Rohingya Muslims are the victim of all brutal specifics of genocidal crimes committed by the Myanmar Army, the Police, the Buddhist monks and the racially motivated common people. The catalogue of such crimes include arson, mass killings, rape, gang rape, torture, burning homes, deprivation of citizenship and civic rights, forceful eviction, and segregating in concentration camps. In order to facilitate their death, the Rohingya people are not allowed to have any access to healthcare. They are even deprived of basic education, jobs, income generating activities, social and cultural institutions, and mobility in the community. They are not allowed to perform even the obligatory prayers in public. On Feb 2, AFP reported from Yangon that Myanmar Authority charged three Muslims men for holding Ramadan (Tarawih) prayers on the street. It was also reported that they were performing prayers on the street because of closure of the two local schools that gave premise to hold prayers. The schools were closed in late April 2017 after the ultra-nationalists complained to the ruling authority that the school-premises are used by the Muslims for the congregational prayers. Thus, the congressional prayer was taken as a serious crime to close down the school! This was done at a time when Aung San Suu Kyi is the de facto leader of the so-called democratic government.
Malnutrition has also been used as an effective weapon against the Rohingya Muslims. Those who are kept in camps are subjected to slow death through it. They are allowed to survive only on sub-subsistence level through international relief goods. Along with other horrendous means of persecution, such a dreadful situation was created only to promote silent disappearance of the Rohingya Muslims through desperate migration to other countries. Only in three weeks in September-October in 2017, about 600, 000 migrated to Bangladesh. In addition, more than 400,000 migrated to Bangladesh on previous episodes of similar forced evictions. About 400, 000 migrated to Saudi Arabia, about 350, 000 to Pakistan, 40, 000 to India and about 100, 000 to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
The Genocide In Phases & the Myanmar Style
Genocide always follows a classical pattern –as postulated by a famous social scientist named Mr Daniel Feuerstein in his book Genocide in Social Practice. The case of Myanmar isn’t different either.
- Harassment, violence and terror
- Isolation and segregation
- Systemic weakening
- Symbolic enactment.
The case of Myanmar indeed presents the textbook example of passing through all such genocidal phases. It starts with the imposed stigmatization by the perpetrators of genocide between “us” and “them”. Here, “us” are the agents who commit the genocide. In Myanmar, they are the Myanmar government and its civil and military institutions, the Buddhist monks, the ultra nationalist political thugs and the state-run gangs of salaried murderers. “Them” are the people who are stigmatized as the target of elimination –either by a process of mass killing or by forced eviction. In Myanmar, the term “them” was assigned for the Rohingya Muslims. They are made scapegoat for all the failures of Myanmar as well as cause of the future threat; hence black listed as the perfect target of genocidal elimination.
In such an appalling situation, it was the duty of the UN and its Human Right offices to identify such a genocidal phase at its earliest stages. It was also their duty to pressurize the Myanmar government to re frame from such an act of criminalizing the innocent people for ethnic cleansing and extermination.
The duty of other world players and human right organizations should have been the same to save the innocent people from a man-made barbaric catastrophe. But they could display only the awful failure. None of the prophylactic or curative interventions by the UN or by any other state or international body happened to protect these people from ongoing genocide. Rather, they did exactly the opposite. The US removed the already imposed embargo; and the countries like India, Russia, and Japan increased their political, diplomatic and economic cooperation with the genocidal regimes. And Aung San Suu Kyi -the de facto leader who currently presides over the genocide, was given a Nobel Prize –a certificate of so-called upright moral conscience! As a result of such commission and omission, the whole community of the Rohingya Muslims was thrown into a death trap. Thus, the genocidal process was allowed to march into a phase of protracted harassment, violence and terror.
The Final Phase
The Myanmar regime deployed all possible tools to carry out the physical as well as the psychological torture against the Rohingya people. These are done deliberated to pass on the message that they have no political, cultural and survival space in Myanmar. Taking away their right of citizenship in 1982 indeed worked as a powerful tool to give them such a message very crudely. It terrorized them psychologically and made them refugee in their own birth place.
Living in a state without its citizenship indeed worked as source of all-time fear and agony. Moreover, the Buddhist monks and nationalist extremist leaders were let loose to label them publicly as the foreign infiltrators from Bangladesh and future threat to Buddhists’ existence in Myanmar. Thus, they instigated violence against these captivated poor Muslims and prescribe full elimination from Arakan. As a result, even a few nationalist thugs could feel highly emboldened to snatch domestic cattle, hens, vegetables and other staff from their Muslim neighbors. Thus they became hostage to frequent arson, violence and rape by the state and non-state agents. And the Muslim women became the regular target for the sex predators of the Army and other security apparatus. The state-run violence, terror and harassment were made deliberately the parts of their daily life. As a result, those who had the means, silently left the country. A field research done by London’s Queen Mary University in 2015 gave a very detailed information of such systematic physical, and psychological torture. Even at this phase of state-run protracted genocide, the UN and other agencies kept their eyes closed and showed a policy of total inaction.
The Burmese ultra nationalist can’t believe that Rohingya Muslims have any survival rights or human rights in Myanmar. They could prescribe only a pre-mediated blue print of total extermination for them –as Adolf Hitler had for the Jews. It is the strategy of isolating and segregating the Rohingya Muslims in concentration camps and restricting their food supply and prohibiting their health, social and educational care. These camps are called the Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps. In order to feed these concentration camps, the Rohingya Muslims are periodically evicted by force from their homes, farms and businesses. Therefore those who were evicted in 1978, 1991-92, 2012, 2013, and 2015, never had any chance to return back to their own homes, farm or business; rather found their final abode in those concentration camps. Those who wish to return back from Bangladesh to Arakan, they do not see any different or better future either. Thus, only a road of physical, moral, cultural and emotional death through systematic weakening is left open for them. Those who do not finish this way, mass slaughtering and forced eviction to other countries wait for them. Now, the long process of such a forced elimination of the Rohingya Muslims has indeed reached the final point.