Myanmar Faces Allegations of GenocideDecember 11, 20192 min read
A United Nations report in September alleged Myanmar security forces had engaged in arson, rape and killings that forced more than 730,000 people to flee for Bangladesh. The countless Rohingya Muslims that remain in Myanmar face the threat of genocide.
At a recent International Court of Justice hearing, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi defended her country's government against the allegations of genocide.
Timothy Horner, a professor at VIllanova's Center for Peace and Justice with a focus on genocide, said it is not new for leaders to defend their countries against charges of atrocity, even genocide, but it is new to have that leader be a Nobel Prize winner.
“Aung San Suu Kyi was given the award in 1999 while she was under house arrest in Myanmar," says Horner. "She was released in 2010 and rose to become the de facto leader of Myanmar since 2016. Her contention is that the West has been duped by fake news. It is mystifying to many international observers see her turn from an activist for democracy and open government to a nationalistic defender of the Myanmar military. But her willingness to represent Myanmar at the ICC has only increased her already booming popularity within the country.”
“Since 2017, satellite imagery, video footage, and numerous reports from the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing the country, have catalogued a long list of structured ethnic violence, ethnic cleansing, and perhaps even genocidal actions taken against this beleaguered ethnic Muslim group. These have allegedly been carried out by the Myanmar military in operations that have been widely supported not only by Myanmar civilians, but also by radical Buddhist monks who see in the Rohingya an existential threat to Myanmar’s national security. There have been deaths on both sides, but the dozens of deaths at the hands of the Rohingya are dwarfed by the tens of thousands of deaths that have come at the hands of the military and vigilante groups in the region. Nearly 750 thousand Rohingya have fled the country since 2017. Many are still stranded in camps on the border in Bangladesh. They have no recourse to the courts in Myanmar because they are not considered citizens by any government. The international community has seen this coming for a long time, but the presence of Suu Kyi has added an ironic twist to the proceeding.”
Horner says it's very hard to prove genocide - and it will take time.
"“It will take years. Individual generals could be imprisoned. Architects as well. It is very hard to prove genocide. It’s only been done a few times. Proving genocide is all about intention. You have to prove that the intention behind the actions are designed to destroy the group. Leaders have gotten better at hiding their tracks. But it’s possible to work back from the action, but problematic. They have to eliminate every possible intention, leaving only genocide.”
To speak with Horner, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610-519-5152.