OPN Rohingya-1566909173784
Rohingya refugees attend a ceremony organised to remember the second anniversary of a military crackdown that prompted a massive exodus of people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia. Image Credit: AFP

Two years ago, a wave of communal and state-sponsored violence was unleashed on the Rohingya people by Myanmarese vigilantes and security forces. Countless thousands of innocent men, women and children were butchered in the slaughter that followed — their only crime in that they are Muslims, unwelcome and shunned by Myanmar.

Much like the ancient Roman emperor Nero who played his lyre as Rome burnt, Aung San Suu Kyi raised not one finger, uttered not one word to stop the security forces of Myanmar across Rakhine state from engaging in what the United Nations would later describe as a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.

Two years on from those heinous events, where families were machine-gunned, mosques burnt, businesses and villages, homes and communities torched, where fleeing refugees had to cross freshly laid minefields or take to the stormy and treacherous waters of the Bay of Bengal, not one single Myanmar official or person has been held to account.

Now, there are close to 750,000 Rohingya living as refugees at Cox’s Bazaar in neighbouring Bangladesh. Entreaties have been made by Myanmar to get these desolate and desperate people to return home. But why would they ever trust a regime again? Sadly, they know only too well that would be a matter of life and death.

More on the Rohingya issue

Make no mistake, the international community will continue to provide for the needs of the Rohingya. They can count on the continued generous support of the leadership and government of the UAE for humanitarian and relief aid, easing their enforced exodus.

And make no mistake either, the international community will take every measure within its orbit to ensure that those who fuelled the murderous hate against the Rohingya people will be brought to justice. Right now, the veneer of reform lamely proffered by Myanmar authorities serves only as a billboard for communal violence, ethnic cleansing and mass murder.

The leadership of Myanmar and its generals will eventually be held to account for their crimes against humanity, their ethnic cleansing, their attempted eradication of the Rohingya. There will be a day of reckoning and they will face justice, held to account for their deeds.

It is difficult for the Rohingya now living in Bangladesh to believe that there will be a new dawn. They must, however, rest assured the world has not forgotten them — and the deeds of their tormentors will always be remembered.