The many faces of Genocide

How many instances of attempted genocide have we seen since 1900? Some would say the Turks tried to eliminate the Armenians. The Armenians are sure of it. Hitler admittedly tried to eliminate all Jews from the face of the earth. People did not quite believe him until the actual death camps were discovered. If you stand in one of them, for example Auschwitz in Poland, there can be no question what went on there. There can be no question anything ELSE went on there. It is plain as day. Even then, the world didn’t want to believe it.

Genocide is such an impossible concept to think about, we are missing examples right now. What are the Israelis trying to do to the Gazans? What are the Burmese attempting to do to the Rohingyas? One difficulty is that we cannot quite grasp WHY one people would want to literally erase another. And the present “people’s favorite” Aung San Suu Kyi is going about the face of the earth without accounting in any way for the unspeakable suffering that has been visited upon the Rohingyas for some time now.

We can coddle the “new Burma” all we like, but we must face the truth of the matter. Many Rohingya refugees right here in Malaysia can fill in the details of how, whatever direction they turn, nobody wants them. People wish them gone, erased, simply eliminated. Is it because they are Muslim?

That does not explain the Malaysian government apparent indifference to their plight. The Rohingyas would like to help their people, yet nobody gives them the slightest “toe-hold”, for example, some sort of address or clear refugee status by which the government could assess their needs and direct its assistance, or provide for some secure life  in an alien land by providing exemptions to our strict immigration policies.

ASEAN Charter specifically forbids intervention in “internal matters”, which may be contrary to the human rights in the country. It is thus powerless. The United States, China and their allies have loosened rather than tightened trade restrictions with Myanmar; so much for human rights versus commerce.

It is commendable to note that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has suspended Syria’s membership at the recent summit of Muslim leaders in Makkah, citing President Bashar Assad‘s violent suppression of the Syrian revolt. In a final statement, the OIC also decided to take to the United Nations the issue of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingyas, displaced by deadly sectarian violence. It described as a “crime against humanity” the Myanmar government‘s handling of minority Muslims. But it should not stop at mere condemnations.

The OIC must press for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the massacre, and indict and prosecute the Myanmar government responsible for the massacre of thousands of Rohingya for violations of International Criminal Law based on the provisions stipulated under the Rome Statute of the ICC.

There is no denying that the ensuing killings of the Rohingya are also a clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is the world’s most recent example of the forgotten victims of genocide, and one close to home geographically and because of religious affinity. It is sheer hypocrisy; that many countries go around claiming credit for trusting the Burmese and bringing them into the “modern democratic world”, or at least the ASEAN world, while at the same time totally ignoring a human rights travesty which should be referred to the ICC for adjudication – and especially Muslim-majority countries helping the Burmese while ignoring the deadly plight of their own Muslim so-called brothers and sisters within that same country.

No better example of “hypocrisy” could be found, and for this alone the members of the OIC, if they fail to act fast, should be defrocked and consigned to the garbage heap of accomplices to attempted genocide, if not traitors to the Muslim Ummah.

Azril Mohd Amin is vice-president, Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia

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