The View From Asia

The appalling atrocities in the neighbourhood

Asia News Network newspapers slam inaction to end the misery of the Rohingya in Myanmar. Here are excerpts.

Suu Kyi can still save Myanmar


The Jakarta Post, Indonesia

How will history judge 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi?

And will the Rohingya Muslims and other oppressed minorities in Myanmar forgive the daughter of the nation's independence hero Aung San, for her silence on the sufferings of millions of people in her own country?

Unless she eventually finds the political courage and goodwill to stand up against the military's decades-long rampant and systemic persecution of her people, she will likely be remembered as "one of the most responsible persons for the gross human rights abuses" inside Myanmar, a member of Asean.

Unfortunately, there is little hope that she will practise what she committed to do in her Nobel lecture in Oslo on June 16, 2012.

On Monday, a United Nations-backed fact-finding mission into violations of human rights in its report urged the world body to investigate and prosecute Myanmar's top generals, including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief, for genocide.

It also concluded that State Counsellor Suu Kyi had failed to use her "moral authority" to prevent violence against the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.

The report was released one year after the military forced at least 700,000 Rohingya people to leave their native land.

Indonesia has actively participated in convincing Myanmar's generals in the past to hand over power to civilians.

The country is now enjoying the fruits of political reform in terms of economic growth. But Myanmar could become a pariah state again, if its leaders continue to defy the international outcry against the ongoing atrocities. Ms Suu Kyi still has a chance to leave a huge legacy for the next generations if she has the willingness to uphold justice for the victims of the human rights abuses in her country.

Rohingya refugees shouting slogans in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district last Saturday as they headed for a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the Myanmar military crackdown that prompted a massive exodus to Bangladesh. In a damning report by the United Nations, Myanmar's military has been accused of committing genocide against the Rohingya Muslims. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Crimes against humanity


The Nation, Thailand

In 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.

Needless to say, the government of Myanmar must address these accusations head-on. There is no way around it.

The mission also backed calls for Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, 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 the state authorities.

State Counsellor 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. Because of her unwillingness to put her foot down, the international community is left with no choice but to take action separately.

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 Asean 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.

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

Crying for humanitarian intervention


The Statesman, India

The United Nations has spoken and the world must listen.

Its intrepid presentation on the violence perpetrated by Myanmar's security forces on the Rohingya is a severe indictment of the country's army chief and, albeit indirectly, of the nominal leader, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, for her silence on the issue.

A convincing follow-through of the report will, of course, hinge on the veto-wielding Security Council members, who will be expected not to prevaricate as they did over Syria and Libya.

A country in Asia direly cries out for humanitarian intervention.

Investigators have found patterns of gross human rights violations and abuses committed in the provinces of Kachin, Rakhine and Shan; the findings have been clothed with the assertion that these "undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law", notably murder, torture, rape, sexual slavery, extermination and forced deportation. The army's claim that it is fighting terrorist insurgency was effectively binned.

A major impediment to action could be China, which has been against punishing Myanmar with which it has investment, trade and energy links. Should the Security Council fail to act collectively and decisively in Myanmar, the generals could well be let off the hook.

Hope must emanate from the International Court of Justice or a special UN tribunal, as happened in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Dhaka needs an early solution


The Daily Star, Bangladesh

We thank the United Nations for exercising due diligence by issuing the strongest condemnation to date of the Myanmar military.

The complicity of both the Myanmar military and civilian government in the gross human rights violations against the Rohingya is something the world already knew, but the genocidal regime has remained unmoved - despite being responsible for creating one of the worst refugee crises in the region.

The sham of a repatriation deal is a case in point.

Failure to try the leadership of the Myanmar military in a court of law would mean letting individuals in power get away with unleashing a campaign of rape, arson and indiscriminate killing.

The UN mission has urged the UN Security Council to set up an ad hoc tribunal or refer the suspects to the International Criminal Court.

But the Security Council's track record when it comes to taking action against Myanmar does not give one much hope.

We appeal to our friend China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to acknowledge the gravity of the humanitarian crisis and change its stance on Myanmar. We also urge Russia to do the same.

The Security Council's consistent failure to pass a single resolution to take action against Myanmar has prevented an entire persecuted population from getting a modicum of justice.

The UN mission's 14-point recommendation must not be ignored by the UN Security Council, regional organisations such as the European Union and Asean, and other relevant bodies.

International pressure on Myanmar must continue as Bangladesh has stretched its abilities in coping with the Rohingya crisis and needs an early solution.

• The View From Asia is a compilation of articles from The Straits Times' media partner, Asia News Network, a grouping of 23 news media organisations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2018, with the headline 'The appalling atrocities in the neighbourhood'. Print Edition | Subscribe