Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Myanmar must face justice

Myanmar must face justice

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rohingya refugees pray at the Kutupalong camp in Ukhia on August 25. DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP

Myanmar must face justice

The Nation (Thailand)/ANNIn a damning report by the United Nations, Myanmar’s military has been accused of committing genocide against the Rohingya Muslims.

The report, which is based on a fact-finding mission, said the armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, were also responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity against other minorities across the country.

The report found conclusive evidence that the Tatmadaw’s activities had amounted “the gravest crimes under international law” in Rakhine, as well as in Kachin and Shan states, which sit along the Chinese and Thai borders, respectively.

It accused the government soldiers of “killing indiscriminately, gang-raping women, assaulting children and burning entire villages” in these three states.

Needless to say, the government of Myanmar must address these accusations head-on.

There is no way around it.

The report singled out several individuals, including Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Tatmadaw, as the responsible parties.

The report was ordered by the UN Security Council following a visit by officials to the country last March to investigate the atrocities that resulted in the uprooting of more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who had been forced to cross the border into Bangladesh. About 25,000 of them were killed in this campaign of violence, which indeed was nothing less than a crime against humanity.

The mission also backed calls for Myanmar to be investigated by the international criminal court (ICC). It shouldn’t matter if the country does not happen to be under the jurisdiction of the court based in The Hague. One way or another, Myanmar must be held accountable for the actions of state authorities.

State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi has in recent days been trying to justify the Tatmadaw’s actions, saying those taken in Rakhine were appropriate because they were in response to “terrorist” attacks.

Whatever moral authority this former icon of democracy once had is no more. She too must be made to answer these allegations. Her newly established inquiry into the crisis in Rakhine has said there would be no “finger-pointing, blaming, to say ‘you’re accountable’”.

Because of her unwillingness to put her foot down, the international community is left with no choice but to take action separately. In short, the Burmese generals must be taken to court. And furthermore, Thailand as well as others who kept silent – by refusing to back calls for Myanmar to be judged before the ICC – are in effect protecting the Tatmadaw and obstructing justice.

No one is asking Thailand and the other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to intervene in Myanmar’s domestic affairs.

But it is important that the Thai government set aside proper diplomatic language if necessary to describe the situation precisely as it is. This is not the time to hide behind comfortable, amicable or convenient language. The atrocities committed in Myanmar constituted nothing less than genocide.

Suu Kyi and her generals must know that any attempt to whitewash these crimes by setting up one inquiry after another will no longer buy them time.

It has become clear that whatever hope the world maintained that she would do the thing has now evaporated. She does not represent the “last hope”, but rather a problem in her own right because of her refusal to take action.

Now it is the ICC that’s looking more and more like the Rohingyas’ last, best hope for justice.

The world cannot stand idly by and watch an entire people being wiped from the face of the earth.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

    Eighty Cambodian blue helmet soldiers who completed the peacekeeping mission under the UN umbrella in Mali will return to Cambodia on Friday, said the Centre for Peacekeeping Forces spokeswoman Kosal Malida. “To protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 80 are required to

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this