The world must act now to protect the Rohingya, one of its most vulnerable populationsby Schona Jolly / October 26, 2017 / Leave a comment
As each day passes, new reports emerge of violent, depraved atrocities committed against the Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar by the country’s military. Babies tossed into fires, savage gang rapes, beheadings, villages razed by fire, destroying tens of thousands of homes and cold-blooded machete massacres, including of children. Meanwhile, the outside world stumbles over what steps to take, and what name they should give this devastating violence. Is it genocide, or should the UN High Commissioner’s declaration of “ethnic cleansing” be enough to prompt an international response?
The military in Myanmar cynically labels the violence “clearance operations,” pointing to attacks on police and army posts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army as the trigger. But the response has been extreme and grotesquely disproportionate. The multiple accounts of events in the last eight weeks gathered by NGOs, a UN rapid response mission and journalists gathering in the camps on the Myanmar-Bangladesh borders suggest a systematic, well-planned and co-ordinated attack on an entire population. The UN High Commissioner’s Office has highlighted a strategy “to instil deep and widespread fear and trauma—physical, emotional and psychological” amongst the Rohingya population. And yet, the world has sat on its hands, waiting and watching to see what unfolds as it grapples with how to label the crisis—and how to act.