Asean must ensure Myanmar restore Rohingya rights — Centhra

NOVEMBER 14 — The Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra) warmly welcomes and strongly supports the statement of the Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed in condemning the actions of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi in downplaying the massacre of the Rohingya people as defending the indefensible.

Indeed, Aung San Suu Kyi’s transformation from democracy icon to international pariah began with the same unjustifiable behaviour and is now all but complete following her recent yet utterly deplorable attempt at justifying the jailing of two international journalists by her regimelast month.

The regime she leads is now far from a respectable member of the international community of civilised nations as a result.

Consequently, we are elated to hear that the international human rights organisation Amnesty International has chosen to withdraw its conferment of its highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award upon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Undoubtedly, this is yet another in a long line of awards that this undeserving peace laureate has lost and represents another blow to her once indomitable prestige which now lies in tatters.

Other losses suffered due to her insufferable actions include the revocation of a Canadian honorary citizenship as well as the cancellations of Freedoms of Oxford, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle, as well as the removal of a plague in the Scottish city of Aberdeen erected in her honour, all due in no small part to her callous indifference to the suffering of the Rohingya at the hands of a government that she, as state chancellor, is widely considered to be the de facto leader of, if not de jure.

Centhra also repeats its past demand to the Nobel Prize Committee, as well as others who have invested the Myanmar leader with any sort of honorary bestowments to remove and revoke the same with all practicable expedience given her unmasking as a human rights violator and a pariah complicit in the mass murder of the Rohingya people.

The international community must brook no more excuses and act now. Accordingly, we urge each and every leader of Asean gathering in Singapore for their 33rd summit this week to immediately and jointly apply the needful political and social pressure backed by their formidable economic clout and bring the same to bear upon Myanmar to force its regime to hold those who have committed grave crimes against the Rohingya accountable as well as resolve the causes of displacement and ongoing genocide of Rohingya Muslims which has also included the Kachin Christians, another minority group of Myanmar.

Centhra recalls the commitment of all nations, those of Asean, to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), a global political commitment made at the 2005 World Summit.

The principle of the R2P is based upon the underlying premise that all nations possess a fundamental obligation to protect all populations from mass atrocities and entails the exercise of a framework for employing measures such as mediation, early warning mechanisms, and economic sanctions to prevent human rights violations and to protect civilians from their occurrence.

Centhra urges that members of Asean immediately activate this framework and apply the same as against Myanmar in order to cajole their regime into restoring the basic rights and dignity due and owing to the Rohingya community.

Such actions could, and surely must also include, appropriate political, economic and military sanctions against Myanmar including use of economic and military force against the regime pursuant to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter should the regime continue to disregard the will of the international community as regards the safety and well-being of the Rohingya.

Already Myanmar has made known its utter contempt for international law and due process by ignoring the findings of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (IIFFMM) through its report, which, as all leaders of Asean no doubt know had they read the same, documented inhumane treatments against the Rohingya, among other indiscriminate attacks, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary deprivation of liberty,

enforced disappearance, destruction of property and looting, torture, rape, and other forms of gender-based violence, leading to the inescapable and incontrovertible conclusion that the persecution and actions taken against the Rohingya are genocide, crime against humanity, and war crimes as defined by the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court.

Consequently, it must thus be asked, and Centhra thus accordingly asks when and at what juncture will the leaders of Asean heed the call to uphold basic human rights and dignity for all peoples, and thus finally decide that enough is enough, and finally take decisive action against the Burmese regime?

Many Rohingya and Kachin lives have already been lost that may well have been saved had the Asean community of nations, acting in concert with the wider international community, earlier moved to impose due punitive measures against Myanmar.

Centhra again beseeches the leaders of Asean to heed the call to action, and accordingly declare the sufferings of the Rohingya to be no less a genocide.

Also given the involvement of the United States as a partner of Asean in attendance at this 33rd Asean Summit via its representation by the US Vice-President Mike Pence, Centhra also calls upon the US to remain true to its stated commitment to defend liberty and human dignity worldwide, and reprise its role as enforcer of the two ideals by similarly declaring the massacre of Rohingya at the hands of Suu Kyi’s barbaric regime as a crime against humanity.

Concrete action in the form of sanctions and the creation of a safe zone within Rakine State in Myanmar policed by the international community via the UN acting in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter with appropriate no-fly zones above the same could thus follow.

Only then can any notion of refoulement of the displaced Rohingya back into their lands in Myanmar, as agreed between the government of Bangladesh and the Myanmar regime via the so-called “Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State” take place, and any such arrangement must guarantee the safety and dignity of those Rohingya who return as well as the restoration of their rightful status as citizens of Myanmar unjustly stripped of them back in 1982 via the enforcement of measures heretofore suggested, and not before.

* Press statement by Azril Mohd Amin, lawyer and chief executive, Centhra

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.