Monday 18 December 2017

Australia must act on Rohingya genocide

Source smh, 17 Dec

Indiscriminate killing, mass rape and arson. Unimaginable atrocities, committed by Myanmar's armed forces, local militia and even Buddhist monks. Soldiers shouting anti-Muslim obscenities while shooting people.
Rohingya refugees on their way to a camp in Bangladesh.Rohingya refugees on their way to a camp in Bangladesh. Photo: AP
But believe it we must. It has gone far beyond a mere humanitarian crisis. This, the deliberate killing of a specific ethnic group, is genocide.
It has caused the fastest refugee exodus since the Rwandan genocide. Soon the depopulation of Rohingya from northern Rakhine will be complete. We must make it stop before it reaches that point.

Myanmar's murder of up to 13,769 Rohingya people – almost half of them in August alone – is a crime against humanity. It very clearly fits that definition, of a deliberate, systematic campaign causing death and human suffering.
Those murdered include at least 730 children under the age of five, Medecins Sans Frontieres has revealed. More than half of those children died after being shot.
Australia needs to step up and do something about this disaster in its region. We cannot afford to ignore the killings and displacement of around 835,000 Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh.

This is the kind of situation that radicalises people. It has the potential to destabilise the entire region. It poses huge problems that would likely directly affect Australia not only in terms of security but also a potential influx of displaced people (170 Rohingya have been held in detention by Australia on Manus Island and Nauru for more than four years).

This campaign of violence takes place within the context of a worsening human rights record across south-east Asia. From President Rodrigo Duterte 's extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, to killings and torture committed by Cambodia's security forces, communist Vietnam's oppression of basic freedoms of expression and religion, and abuses that continue unabated in the conflict between separatist groups and security forces in Thailand's north, Amnesty International has described  as "endemic" the region's human rights violations.

In Myanmar, those violations now appear to include its treatment of journalists, with two Reuters reporters arrested and charged by the government late last week, accused of leaking documents on brutal military-led attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State.

Australia must immediately condemn Myanmar's actions in the strongest manner, and call them out for what they undoubtedly are. We must end any co-operation with the Myanmar military.

And as one of the most influential ASEAN countries, as well as a newly elected member of the United Nations Human Rights council from January 1, 2018, we have a moral responsibility not just to act, but to lead by example.
We cannot squib it.

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