At last, the truth has been revealed about the extent and depth of the actions of the military in Myanmar to commit genocide against the Rohingya people. It has taken the United Nations a full year to prepare its report into the murderous events of last August, a time frame due in part to the fact that the authorities in Myanmar did everything in their power to impede international investigators from doing their essential work.
The deliberate and wilful physical and administrative barriers erected by the Myanmar government, however, did not prevent the United Nations from ultimately going about its work, and the evidence provided by those who endured the beatings, shootings, burnings, machine-gunning, gang-rapes and the herding of refugees across newly laid minefields provides one stark, horrific and unfathomable conclusion: The military planned and perpetrated genocide against the Rohingya.
Over 10 days, the Myanmar military acted, aided and abetted in the killing of 25,000 Rohingya men, women and children — victims who were murdered for being Muslim. Another 700,000 were forced from their homes, taking to the treacherous Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to try any find safe ports, or trekking through minefields and hiding from marauding troops.
The UN report conclusively finds overwhelming evidence from multiple sources, including satellite imagery and first-hand accounts that the military — known as the Tatmadaw — committed genocide. The word ‘Tatmadaw’ should now be viewed among others included in the same light as Rwanda’s Interahamwe, Nazi Germany’s SS, the Khymer Rouge in Cambodia or those members of the Serb army responsible for the mass killings at Srebrenica.
The UN investigation and report must not be allowed to gather dust. Each of the 25,000 victims deserves that their death will not have been in vain, even as the 700,000 or so now living in cramped camps in Cox’s Bazaar and across Bangladesh demand justice.
At present, the International Criminal Court in The Hague offers the facilities and expertise to prosecute such complex crimes. It has a proven track record of jurisprudence in these matters and the successful prosecution of various odious characters from similar nations and regimes involved in genocide and crimes against humanity speaks to its competency.
With the evidence and court in place, the only thing that remains to be done now is to ensure that the generals, officers and soldiers who participated in this chapter of indiscriminate killing of the Rohingya face justice. And any justice delayed is justice denied.