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Impacts of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). Ease or Exacerbate China-India Rivalry?

By Andrew Korybko

Global Research,

The eventual completion of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) will either ease or exacerbate the Sino-Indo economic rivalry of the past few years depending on how New Delhi responds to Beijing’s latest trans-regional integration initiative, but whatever it decides to do, it’s clear that CMEC is destined to be a real game-changer one way or the other.

President Xi’s visit to Myanmar last weekend was marked by the clinching of 33 agreements that are in one way or another connected with the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). This latest trans-regional integration project of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) aims to pioneer a CPEC-like connectivity corridor to the Afro-Asian (“Indian”) Ocean that would complement its predecessor in the northwestern corner of this body of water by further strengthening Beijing’s economic influence in South Asia. Beijing’s intentions are benign because its grand strategic goal is simply to ensure its reliable non-Malacca access to the Afro-Asian Ocean through which a sizeable percentage of its foreign trade traverses, but its moves have been interpreted by New Delhi (with a wink and a nod from Washington) as part of a plot to “encircle” it.

This state of affairs lays the basis for their “strategic dilemma” with one another that has contributed to their economic rivalry over the past few years, which dramatically reached a new height after India refused to sign on to the Chinese-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at the very last minute during last November’s summit in Bangkok. At the same time, however, India has been playing a double game that it deceptively describes as “multi-alignment” by attempting to re-enter into economic talks with the People’s Republic as part of its so-called “balancing” strategy of supposedly pursuing equidistant relations with the world’s premier Great Powers. The signing of “phase one” of a more comprehensive US-Chinese trade deal, however, put India in a tough spot entirely of its own making which will shape its reaction to CMEC.

Not only didIndia fail to take advantage of the so-called “trade war” to position itself as a leading destination for Western companies re-offshoring from China like Vietnam did, but it now has to contend with China’s gradual economic reforms which will by default make the People’s Republic even attractive to Western companies in the long run especially since many of them already have an impressive footprint in the country. India also didn’t agree to a free trade deal with the US after the RCEP fiasco since it considered America’s demanded terms to be lopsided (though a deal might nevertheless soon be signed), but after “phase one”, Washington has no reason to “compromise” all that much since it already reached an important deal with Beijing. At the same time, the expansion of Chinese economic influence into South Asia continues apace with CMEC.

India also has strategic economic interests in Myanmar as well, namely in the country functioning as a transit state for New Delhi’s overland trade with ASEAN through the Trilateral Highway that will connect it with Thailand. CMEC and the Trilateral Highway are perpendicular to one another and both intersect in the centrally positioned city of Mandalay, so these connectivity initiatives can either complement one another or compete depending on whatever New Delhi decides. On the one hand, India might use Myanmar as a backdoor to China via RCEP, but on the other, China doing the same to India via the latter’s free trade agreement with ASEAN might defeat the entire purpose of New Delhi declining to join RCEP in the first place. In other words, Mynamar’s “economic multi-alignment’ between China and India makes both scenarios possible.

This naturally leads to the conclusion that India’s trade ties with Myanmar and ASEAN more broadly after their incorporation into the Chinese-led RCEP is the main issue which will have to be settled by New Delhi sooner than later. India has made spent a lot of time promoting its so-called “Act East” policy of ASEAN engagement, but it can’t continue with it at the same scale as before because of RCEP and CMEC unless it either modifies its relations with the neighboring bloc or accepts that it and especially Myanmar will function as the bridge more closely connecting the Indian and Chinese economies. Therein lies the dilemma, however, since India wants to keep China at arm’s length out of fear that its “Make in India” program of domestic industrial development will be hamstrung by the predicted large-scale influx of cheap Chinese goods through RCEP and Myanmar.

There were serious protests in India in early November before it officially declined to join RCEP precisely over these fears, and considering the current political unrest that’s spread throughout the country in a more wider way than those previous purely economic protests, the ruling BJP might not want to risk further inciting the populace by being seen as supposedly “selling out” to China. Even so, the only way to avoid the eventuality of closer Sino-Indo trade ties via Myanmar is to publicly call for the reformatting of Indian-ASEAN relations, which would risk ruining the goodwill that it’s fostered with the bloc over the past decade and make it seem like the country is economically isolating itself. New Delhi’s development vision for its restive Northeastern States (“Indian Balkans“) also hinges on ASEAN connectivity, so a chain reaction of regional uncertainty might ensue.

As a result of these interconnected strategic calculations, it’s clear to see that CMEC will either ease or exacerbate the Sino-Indo economic rivalry. The consequences of New Delhi’s decision to follow the former scenario would be the country’s further integration into the Chinese-led economic order that’s emerging all throughout Asia whereas its choice to pursue the latter scenario would contribute to its growing isolation and potentially also spark further unrest in the “Indian Balkans” if the government fails to do good on its previous pledge of bringing development to this long-neglected region. Given the observable tendency of the Indian leadership to tacitly “contain” China in cooperation with the US, the odds are that it’ll opt for the second scenario unless something unexpectedly changes, which would only work out to America’s strategic benefit.

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Going to the ICJ: Myanmar, Genocide and Aung San Suu Kyi’s Gamble

By Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Leaders currently in office rarely make an appearance before either the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court.  International law remains affixed to the notion that heads-of-state are, at least for the duration of their time in office, safe from prosecution.  Matters change once the time in office expires.  

Be that as it may, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, with an ever dwindling number of peace prizes and awards to her name for questionable responses to the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority, has a plan.  She intends to personally plead the case of her country against charges of genocide being made in the International Court of Justice.  As the Ministry of the Interior has claimed, the argument against state brutality against the Rohingya has arisen due to ignorance about “the complexities of the issue and the narratives of the people of Myanmar.”

The case itself is drawn from the well of universal jurisdiction, a concept that Henry Kissinger finds so troubling to the freedom of flexible statecraft.  The former US secretary of state, in 2001, warned that subjecting international relations to judicial procedures came with risks.

“The danger lies in pushing the effort to extremes that risk substituting the tyranny of judges for that of governments; historically, the dictatorship of the virtuous has often led to inquisitions and even witch-hunts.”

Kissinger ignores a lingering point stretching back to Roman law that universal jurisdiction, or at least the rhetoric of it, can be exercised against certain crimes that might revolt the tender conscience humanity.  Piracy, for instance, might be punished as an extra-territorial offence, though it should not be confused as being on all fours with international criminal law.  “I need not tell you the heinousness of this offence,” came the pre-deliberation address to the jury in the piracy trial of Capt William Kidd in 1701.  “Pirates are called ‘Hostes humani generis’ the enemies of the people.”

In this instance, the threat to Myanmar’s authority does not come from an internal action, but from the West African country of The Gambia as a representative of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.  Last month, a 46-page application was submitted by the Muslim-majority state to the ICJ, alleging the commission by Myanmar’s authorities of mass murder, rape and the destruction of communities living within Rakhine State, ostensibly as part of a “clearing” program. “The genocidal acts committed during these operations were intended to destroy the Rohingya as a group… by the use of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the systematic destruction by fire of their villages, often with inhabitants locked inside burning houses.”    UN to Resolve the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis

Some 720,000 Rohingya were forced to flee to Bangladesh in light of these operations, and the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, established by the UN Human Rights Council, revealed nothing in the way of redeeming evidence on the part of government authorities.  Its August 2018 report made special mention of the predations of the security forces in Rakhine State, though also noted the actions of armed ethnic groups in Kahin and Shan States.  More detailed findings were published the following month.   

The Mission, having designated the Rohingya to be a protected group, satisfied itself that acts of genocide had been committed.  “Perpetrators have killed Rohingya, caused serious bodily and mental harm to Rohingya, deliberately inflicted conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of Rohingya, and imposed measures intended to prevent births to Rohingya.”

Enough, then, to go on in terms of mounting a legal action, albeit in slightly different circumstances.  The instance of this case is irregular, given that the ICJ usually undertakes such hearings after consulting the findings of other tribunals, be it the International Criminal Court or those of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. 

The decision by Suu Kyi to take the matter on personally in both roles as state counsellor and foreign minister is garnering mixed reviews.  In Myanmar, propaganda units have been mobilised.  Support for the decision is being encouraged in the days leading up to the December 10-12 hearings through planned rallies being organised by the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) in Yangon, Mandalay, Monywa, and Mawlamyine.  

Numerous armed groups have expressed their approval.  Nyi Rang, external relations official for the United Wa State Army (UWSA) is one.  “We are proud and supporting her taking responsibility and travelling to face the trial.”  Colonel Khun Okkar, chairman of the Pa-O National Liberation Organisation (PNLO) is another. 

“We need to show our solidarity with the government which is trying to prove that the offences cannot be classified as genocide.” 

This position, it should be said, is not universally shared within Myanmar itself.  This stands to reason: not all ethnic armed organisations within the state are rooting for a government deemed the handmaiden of military brutality.  The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army (AA) suggest that claims of genocide are not only plausible but historical, having taken place over seven decades of civil war.  According to a sombre spokesman for the AA, “She [Aung San Suu Kyi] should not be defending war criminals who try to hide behind the term ‘the charge of the nation’.”   

The prosecutor of the ICC has also opened up a preliminary investigation into the matter, an action approved by the Pre-Trial Chamber III of the ICC, though the action is limited by the fact that Myanmar is not a signatory to the court’s statute.  That said, the three-judge panel reasoned that an investigation could take place as long as part of the alleged criminal conduct occurred in the territory of a State Party.  Myanmar may well not be a State Party, but Bangladesh most certainly is. 

The Gambia case promises to revisit the at times contentious basis as to how universal jurisdiction is invoked, despite the acceptance by such organisations as Amnesty International that most UN Member States “can exercise universal jurisdiction over one or more crimes under international law, either as such crimes or as ordinary crimes under national law.”

The sight of Suu Kyi, defending the actions of the military against what security forces deem legitimate counterinsurgency operations, is going to paint a bleak picture indeed.  From the giddy summit of peace prizes and romanticised positions against tyranny, the civilian leader of Myanmar has become a powerful exponent of a certain brand of blood soaked Realpolitik, state brutality sanitised and reasoned.   

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UN Report on Myanmar Ignores Western Imperial High Crimes


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A UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission accused Myanmar’s military and security forces of genocide and war crimes against Royinghas and other ethnic minorities – calling their actions “the gravest crimes under international law.”

According to former Indonesian attorney general mission chair Marzuki Darusman, Myanmar’s military committed “shocking human rights violations,” showing “flagrant disregard for lives,” displaying “extreme levels of brutality.”

Its military shows “contempt for human life, dignity and freedom – for international law in general.”

“The Rohingya are in a continuing situation of severe systemic and institutionalized oppression from birth to death.”

Offenses cited include gang rape, torching villages, enslavement, massacres, false imprisonments, torture, and other crimes against humanity in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states.

The report called for a mechanism to hold Myanmar authorities accountable – including state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, complicit through silence and inaction.

The report said she

“has not used her de facto position as Head of Government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events in Rakhine State.”

“The Government and the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) have fostered a climate in which hate speech thrives, human rights violations are legitimized, and incitement to discrimination and violence facilitated.”

The International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction over the country because it’s not a Rome Statute signatory.

The universal jurisdiction principle (UJ) holds that certain crimes are too grave to ignore, including genocide, crimes of war and against humanity.

Under UJ, nations may investigate and prosecute foreign nationals when their country of residence or origin won’t, can’t, or hasn’t for any reason. Israel used it to convict and execute Adolph Eichmann.

A US court sentenced Chuckie Taylor, son of the former Liberian president, to 97 years in prison for torture.

Britain used a Spanish court provisional warrant to apprehend former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, holding him under house arrest for 18 months.

Instead of prosecuting him for high crimes too grave to ignore, he was released and sent home, based on bogus ill health claims.

Under Article 7 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg:

“The official position of defendants, whether as Head of State or responsible officials in Government departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.”

No one deserves immunity for high crimes demanding accountability. It’s time that standard applied to America, other NATO countries, Israel, and their imperial partners for high crimes too egregious to ignore.

Established by the Rome Statute in July 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is empowered to prosecute individuals for genocide and aggression, as well as crimes of war and against humanity.

The UN was created “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life time has brought untold sorrow to mankind.”

Its leadership did nothing to deter endless wars of aggression, human rights abuses, or other high crimes committed by powerful member states, notably Western ones, Israel, and their imperial partners, doing what they please, operating with impunity.

Nor has the ICC, functioning as an imperial tool, targeting officials of nations Washington and NATO want prosecuted, victims of US-led aggression.

The court, world body, and special international tribunals never sought to hold officials of Western nations, Israel, and their allies accountable for naked aggression and related high crimes too egregious to ignore.

Myanmar officials are easy targets. So were former Yugoslav officials Slobodan Milosevic and Ratko Mladic, Iraq’s deputy PM and foreign minister Tariq Aziz, Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, the DRC’s Jean-Pierre Bemba, Uganda’s Joseph Kony, and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, among others.

The highest of high crimes committed by Western and allied officials go unpunished.

Their adversaries and enemies are held accountable for crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide committed against their countries by foreign powers.

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Militants Threaten China’s OBOR Initiative in Myanmar


Militants in northern Myanmar have once again put China’s One Belt, One Road initiative on hold. It should come as no surprise that Anglo-American history played a direct role in their creation, and currently fund and back networks supporting them. 

The BBC has mounted a recent propaganda campaign aimed at once again placing pressure on Myanmar’s military, within a wider effort to drive a wedge between Myanmar and China.

Amid an already ongoing and deceptive narrative surrounding the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar’s southwest state of Rakhine, attention is now being focused on the nation’s northern state of Kachin.

Nick Beake of the BBC produced a narrative aimed at intentionally preying on the emotions of viewers. The report revolved around alleged hardships suffered by Kachin villagers fleeing from a supposed government offensive. The report was absent of any context or evidence and was based entirely on hearsay from alleged villagers Beake claims to have interviewed.

Beake would conclude that his report represented the “first eyewitness accounts of the Burmese military targeting civilians in their latest offensive in Kachin State.” And supposed eyewitness accounts were all Beake presented. At one point Beake’s report even cited third-hand reports of torture and rape – stories fleeing villagers claimed they had only heard from others, but did not directly witness themselves.

The only specific death Beake cited was of a man of military age he claims was killed during the supposed fighting. Beake avoided mentioning whether the victim was a Kachin fighter or a civilian caught in crossfire.

The BBC’s Nick Beake makes little mention of the actual conflict and no mention at all that Kachin militants are among the most heavily armed and well organized in the divided nation of Myanmar.

And while the BBC report briefly claims that Kachin militants “have been fighting for independence for decades,” it never mentions the central role the British government itself played in creating Kachin militant groups during World War II to protect their colony, how Kachin militants played a role in resisting Myanmar’s bid for independence, and the role these militants have played in preventing Myanmar’s progress forward as a unified nation ever since.

Manufacturing Crisis, Foiling Chinese Interests 

The BBC report and an uptick of sudden concern over Kachin State come at a time when Beijing has been working to foster peace deals to end the chaos unfolding along its border with Myanmar.

An April 2017 article in Foreign Policy titled, “China Is Playing Peacemaker in Myanmar, but with an Ulterior Motive,” would include a revealing subtitle:

Beijing is trying to end the long-running conflicts along its border with Myanmar — but only because it can’t exploit the region’s resources at will anymore.

While Foreign Policy attempts to cast doubts on China’s motivations, it inadvertently reveals that Kachin militants and their conflict with Myanmar’s military are impeding Chinese interests, providing an essential clue as to who the fighting benefits and who is likely encouraging and enabling it.

Foreign Policy makes mention of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy coming to power and and the role that Suu Kyi herself played in protesting and obstructing Chinese-led infrastructure projects – including dams, roadways, ports, and pipelines – in Myanmar. Foreign Policy fails to mention the decades of US-UK funding that created and propelled Suu Kyi’s government into power.

Foreign Policy does claim however (emphasis added):

In 2015, elections raised up the Nationwide League for Democracy, an opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, though the military retained control of important ministries and substantial influence in the parliament through a new constitution. Instead of a client state on its southwestern border, China had to deal with a government that was keen to find great powers to balance Beijing’s influence. 

Of course, those “great powers” being referred to reside in Washington, London, and Brussels. And despite hopes that Myanmar would bend entirely before the West, it appears that many deals are still being pursued by Beijing and there are still receptive parties in Myanmar working to meet Beijing half way.

Conveniently, Kachin militants have renewed fighting along China’s borders, threatening to complicate development projects in ways mere politics cannot. Foreign Policy would admit:

China’s hopes to restart the [Myitsone] dam were complicated by a resumption of fighting between the KIA and Myanmar’s military after a cease-fire had broken down after two decades in 2011, shortly before the dam was put on hold. The instability has often closed the border and threatened China’s huge business interests in timber, gold, and jade.

Repeated claims that Myanmar is now a “democracy,” and that China must answer to protests and opposition to their projects, sidesteps the fact that opposition to Chinese projects is anything but “democracy” in action. Those behind these protests are funded and directed by US and UK government organizations.

Foreign Policy even cites one – the Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG) – but fails to disclose its foreign funding. KDNG is mentioned in a US State Department cable disclosed by Wikileaks titled, “Burma: Grassroots Opposition to Chinese-Backed Dam in Northern Burma.” The cable also admits (emphasis added):

An unusual aspect of this case is the role grassroots organizations have played in opposing the dam, which speaks to the growing strength of civil society groups in Kachin State, including recipients of [US] Embassy small grants.

KDNG general secretary Steve Naw Aung would make a point about China’s close relationship with Myanmar’s military and the resistance to Chinese-led projects from the new – and very much US-UK-backed – government headed by Suu Kyi.

This is why more recent reports like Nick Beake’s BBC segment often insist atrocities are carried out solely by Myanmar’s military with Suu Kyi’s government portrayed as a helpless onlooker. Similar narratives have been applied to violence carried out against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority, despite the most violent and aggressive forces assaulting Rohingya communities are drawn from Suu Kyi’s support base – not the military.

The Foreign Policy piece reveals how Kachin militants may still yet be persuaded by China to choose peaceful development over conflict driven by whatever promises have been made by the “great powers” likely underwriting their cause, or at the very least, trying to encourage it. Foreign Policy makes mention that beyond infrastructure projects like dams and natural resource extraction – China also seeks to create transit routes through Myanmar to both India and to the Bay of Bengal.

It is no coincidence that conflicts closely minded, even openly cultivated by the US, UK, and other European governments have erupted and now burn precisely in the path of these planned transit routes.

Routes to India pass through contested Kachin State. Routes to, and a port facility on the Bay Bengal so happen to be located in Rakhine State, the heart of the ongoing Rohingya crisis.

Kachin Militants – An Anglo-American Time Bomb    

The Irrawaddy – a media platform funded by the US government via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) – wrote a 2012 article titled, “Memories of WWII Run Deep for KIO [Kachin Independence Organization].”

In it, the article admits that Kachin fighters formed part of the British Empire’s colonial army. It also mentions the strategy of divide and rule used by the British, stating (emphasis added):

Prior to the outbreak of World War II, the Kachin, along with the Karen and Chin ethnic groups, comprised the overwhelming majority of local troops who served in Britain’s Burmese colonial army, a force that also consisted of Gurkha from Nepal and Punjabi troops from India. The Kachin and the other groups were all considered trusted “martial races” by the colonial authorities. In contrast, Burma’s colonial army had few if any members of the Burman majority, a deliberate policy of divide and rule whose legacy is still felt in the country today.

The article also mentioned the US government’s role in training factions of Kachin fighters during World War II, stating (emphasis added):

Although the KIO did not begin its armed insurrection against Burma’s government until 1961, more than 16 years after the end of World War II, a good portion of the founding leadership of the KIO, including the group’s first head Zau Seng (no relation to the aforementioned major), were veterans of the Second World War who were trained in guerrilla fighting as part of Detachment 101 operated by the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a predecessor of the CIA, or under a similar group organized by Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) called the Kachin levies.

As revealing as this is – it still enables Western governments and media to claim Kachin fighting after the World War was done on their own accord. However, a revealing history is laid out by Kachinland News in a piece titled, “The Biography of Du Kaba Lahpai Naw Seng (Part III),” which published  part of a British officer’s speech to his Kachin fighters at the conclusion of World War II.

The officer stated (emphasis added):

You endured many hardships displaying extraordinary stamina and perseverance. Due to this, you have vanquished the more powerful, better-equipped Japanese troops despite having much less manpower. Defeating the Japanese is just the beginning of your legacy. Now to protect and safeguard the recaptured lands, we will begin creating all-Kachin Battalions.

Of course, this “safeguarding” was being done on behalf of the British Empire as a means of re-consolidating control over British Burma. Those “all-Kachin Battalions” would eventually be formed and would form the foundation of Kachin militant groups now fighting in Myanmar today.

An All Too Convenient Conflict 

It is clear that Kachin fighters were formed as part of the British Empire’s strategy of maintaining control over Myanmar – then called Burma – and it was clear that the British saw Kachin fighters as a means of consolidating power after World War II concluded.

It is also confirmed that the US has funded fronts in Kachin to impede Chinese-led development projects – development US diplomats themselves admit the region desperately needs and are not receiving from either the government of Myanmar itself, or from Kachin “freedom fighters” who amass wealth for themselves and leave nothing behind for the rest of Kachin State’s population – according to another Wikileaks-disclosed US cable.

While evidence is scarce concerning what sort of backing Kachin fighters may or may not be receiving from Washington and London today, their representatives are revealed to be in contact with US diplomats in neighboring Thailand in the northern city of Chiang Mai.

Recent fighting all too conveniently spoils Chinese efforts to move projects forward. It also places additional pressure on Myanmar’s military at a time when the US seeks to cut back or co-op its power in favor of the Suu Kyi government Washington and London spent millions of dollars over decades placing into power.

Regardless of who is encouraging and enabling Kachin fighters today, the BBC and other Western media organizations are clearly coordinating their narratives to leverage the conflict against both Myanmar’s military and in a bid to impede Chinese-led development.

Should sufficient traction be made, the stage the BBC and other media organizations are setting with their familiar “humanitarian” narratives, will soon be occupied by Western governments and Western-funded fronts seeking to displace Chinese interests in northern Myanmar and setting back its wider, regional One Belt, One Road initiative.

Understanding the US desire to impede the rise of China reveals what appear to be otherwise disparate conflicts as linked together, both within Myanmar itself, and across Southeast Asia as a whole. Once this is understood, it is easy to decipher emerging conflicts as they unfold – especially as the Western media attempts to leverage them to suit Western interests.

Beijing can be expected to continue seeking peace along its borders in order to move long-delayed projects forward. In the coming weeks and months, China’s patience and resilience will be put to the test by the West’s capacity to both create chaos, and wring from it a sense of order more to its liking.

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Myanmar: Attack Against the Rohingyas


Religious Majoritarianism and Commercial Interests Drive the Attack Against the Rohingyas


By: Gautam Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his visit to Myanmar from 5-7 September 2017 assured India’s support to the government of Myanmar despite the continuing government and army driven ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas, the majority of whom are Muslims. The Government of India has also labelled the 40,000 Rohingyas as illegal immigrants in India calling them a threat to national security and hence to be deported through an affidavit before the Supreme Court.

The Attack on Rohingyas in Myanmar

Following weeks of silence on the issue of ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas in the State of Rakhine, Myanmar’s ‘democratic rights’ crusader, Nobel peace prize winner and State Counsellor (de facto Prime Minister) Aung Sang Suu Kyi in her first national address on the recent crisis, said there had been no clashes or clearance operations in the western coastal state since 5 September and that that all refugees would be allowed to return after a ‘verification process’. More than 1,000,000 Rohingyas have been forced to flee and have become stateless since 2012, their villages have been razed to the ground by the Myanmar army, their settlements burnt, and women raped and denied access to even humanitarian aid. Nearly all Rohingyas live in Myanmar’s western coastal state of Rakhine.

Central to the chauvinistic and racist persecution of the Rohingyas is the 1982 Citizenship Law, which effectively denies citizenship to them by excluding them from the list of recognised “national races” that would entitle them to full citizenship. This law requires every person to provide “conclusive evidence” that their ancestors settled in Myanmar (Burma) before independence in 1948. The government considers Rohingyas to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh with official government statements referring to them as “Bengalis”.

The transition from military rule to parliamentary democracy initiated in 2011, was followed by waves of cold blooded communal violence in 2012, forcing the 1.4 million Rohingyas into camps which they are forbidden to leave ostensibly so they can be given protection. Most Rohingyas held temporary citizenship documents, commonly known as ‘white cards’. Following these attacks, in December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution urging Myanmar to provide “full citizenship’’ to its Rohingya Muslim minority and to allow them freedom of movement within the country and called upon the Myanmar government to address the root causes of violence and discrimination and to promote peaceful coexistence.

Responding to international pressure, on 10 February 2015, Myanmar parliament granted ‘white card’ holders the right to vote in the referendum on the country’s constitution. The President however revoked this right the very next day in response to protests, led by Buddhist monks, taking away even the temporary citizenship right of the Rohingyas. The only serving Rohingya MP in the bicameral parliament from 2011 to 2016 was first denied candidacy by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and then barred from contesting the election by the Election Commission in 2015, on the ground that his parents were not citizens of Myanmar, when NLD won an overwhelming majority, ending military rule.

Attack on Natural Resources

Apart from majoritarian politics, the beneficiaries from the attack on the Rohingyas are the corporations exploiting Myanmar’s natural resources. From the 1990s onwards the Rohingyas have been displaced as a result of expropriation of land. The transition government gave sanctity to land grabbing by changing land acquisition laws in 2012 as part of economic policy aimed at attracting foreign investment.

With the discovery of massive natural gas and oil deposits, concentrated in the Rakhine state, in 2004 both China and India have sought to enter into drilling and purchase agreements with Myanmar. Estimates suggest that natural gas deposits in the Myanmar maritime zone equal nearly 25% of India’s reserves making this of strategic interest.

Since 2013, India’s leading private enterprises including Reliance and Essar gained entry along with already existing public sector ONGC and GAIL in offshore oil and gas blocks. Poor infrastructure in Myanmar and access barrier created by Bangladesh inhibited India’s capacity to pump the gas into India even though it has invested in a petrochemical complex, in the upgradation of the Sittwe port and set up an SEZ in the Rakhine state.

Hence as part of BJP Government’s Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 for the North-Eastern States, India is negotiating a plan to lay 6,900 km of gas pipelines from the Rakhine state to West Bengal and the North eastern states through Bangladesh. Myanmar’s Rakhine state, if freed of its people, would make this expansion easier.

India’s Role

The statement issued jointly on behalf of Prime Minister Modi and State Counsellor Aung Sang Suu Kyi on 6 September 2017 condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and agreed that the fight against terrorism should (include) entities that encourage, support or finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues. Myanmar condemned the recent barbaric terror attacks during the Amarnath Yatra in India…. India condemned the recent terrorist attacks in northern Rakhine State…. They called on the international community to end selective and partial approaches to combating terrorism”.

Both before and after Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Myanmar, India has welcomed chiefs of the Myanmar’s Army and Navy. During these visits India has renewed its commitment to supply Myanmar defence equipment including for surveillance to combat Islamic terror.

The joint India-Myanmar statement makes the position amply clear that, both governments view all people of the Islamic faith, especially in the state of Kashmir in India and in the state of Rakhine in Myanmar, as terrorists and directly associated with terrorist groups or at the very least supporters of such groups. This is a clear instance of governments employing peoples’ religious identity to define their political choice and branding an entire people by such association.

The BJP government in New Delhi is determined to push India to its majoritarian understanding of Hindutva and drive divisions in the sub­continent against those of the Islamic faith. It presses this position through a chauvinistic politics alongside militarising both India and the sub­continent through its ‘internal security doctrine’ undermining democracy both at home and across South Asia.

The view of the BJP government is echoed in the annual Vijay Dashami address by Mohan Bhagwat, the Chief of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh when he termed all Rohingya Muslims as infiltrators chased away by Myanmar as people who engage in continuous, violent and criminal separatist activities and linkages with the terrorist groups. The BJP, the RSS and their cohort are seeking to advance the view that every person of the Islamic faith is a terrorist and every person who does not ascribe to the Sangh Parivar’s view of majoritarian Hindutva is anti-national.

Singling out one community or people of a particular faith and branding all members as violent, criminal and terrorist is rooted in a majoritarian politics that view peoples as unequal and predetermined by their birth is both unscientific and undemocratic. All forces of equality, social justice, democracy and progress must stand upagainst this simply divisive and reprehensible politics.

The NTUI calls upon the Government of India to:

* Recognise that the attack on Rohingyas in the Rakhine State of Myanmar amounts to state led ethnic cleansing and therefore it must cease immediately,

* Employ its diplomatic relations with the Government of Myanmar to bring the attack on Rohingyas to a halt, to take measures to ensure that the Rohingyas can safely return to their communities, to ensure that they receive immediate humanitarian relief and create conditions for “full citizenship’’ to the Rohingya Muslim minority,

* Place an arms embargo on Myanmar until such time as the forgoing are dealt with,

* Recognise the Rohingyas in India as refugees and have them registered as such with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and ensure that they are treated as such,

* Convene a Myanmar-Bangladesh-Pakistan-China-India summit to deal with the humanitarian crisis of Rohingya refugees.

Click here to return to the September 2017 index.

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Why U.S. and Saudi Arabia Back Rohingya in Myanmar


Featured image: British colonial forces in Myanmar, known at the time as Burma.

Demonstrations, protests and online petitions have appeared worldwide to defend the struggle of the Rohingya people who have been driven from Myanmar into exile. What is of concern is that political forces with no history of or interest in defending the rights of these oppressed people, including the U.S. and Saudi regimes, have joined this effort.

While he was threatening People’s Korea, Iran and Venezuela in his United Nations speech, U.S. President Donald Trump also demanded that the U.N. Security Council take “strong and swift action” to end violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya population.

U.S. government officials, including U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki HaleySecretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence, have called for immediate action and delivery of humanitarian aid to the Rohingya.

Since Washington and Riyadh are inflicting a murderous war on millions of people in Yemen, not to mention in other parts of the world, working-class movements and anti-imperialist forces around the globe are asking what is behind their sudden concern for a small ethnic group in Southeast Asia. Could it have something to do with geopolitical maneuvering in Myanmar between China and the U.S.?

As a huge developing economy with central planning, significant state ownership and cash reserves, China is in a position to offer extensive infrastructure development. China’s One Belt One Road project and other economic plans are attracting great interest.

U.S. policy is increasingly geared toward disrupting these development plans with vastly expanded militarization and regional wars. This is the strategy behind the Pentagon’s “Pivot to Asia.” A Western network of nongovernmental organizations and Saudi-backed extremists are part of the disruption.

Myanmar and the Rohingya

Myanmar, earlier called Burma, is a formerly colonized, underdeveloped and extremely diverse nation of 51 million people. It has 135 distinct ethnic groups among its eight nationalities.

Myanmar is a resource-rich, strategically important country bordering China, Bangladesh, India, Thailand and Laos. It’s important to Wall Street banks and U.S. policy makers as a major exporter of natural gas, and there are plans to make it a conduit for oil.

Within Myanmar, the Rohingya people are an oppressed ethnic group of approximately 1 million people. A majority of Rohingya are Muslim, though they make up less than half of Myanmar’s Muslim population, which is scattered throughout the mostly Buddhist country.

The Rohingya are considered stateless. They live in the state of Rakhine, on the Bay of Bengal, and share a long border with Bangladesh.

In articles on Myanmar and the Rohingya, Reuters News (Dec. 16, 2016), Chicago Tribune (Aug. 31), Wall Street Journal (Sept. 13) and the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (Sept. 7), all reported Saudi support for the Rohingya struggle.

The group carrying out armed resistance in Myanmar, known as Harakah al-Yaqin (HaY, Faith Movement in Arabic) and now called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, is headquartered in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Ataullah abu Ammar Junjuni, a Pakistani national who lived in Saudi Arabia, is the leader of ARSA. This group led a coordinated attack on 30 Myanmar military posts on Aug. 25.

The Myanmar military responded with a wave of repressive attacks on the Rohingya that drove tens of thousands of people over the border.

U.S./Saudi crimes in Yemen

Meanwhile, the Saudi kingdom is carrying out a genocidal war on Yemen, enforcing a blockade of food and aid against the poorest country in Southwest Asia. This war is only possible using U.S.-made jet aircraft and bombs. The Saudi military cannot fly its own jet aircraft or carry out bombing runs without direct U.S. assistance and in-air refueling. In addition, the Pentagon is now carrying out at least one covert strike every two days in Yemen.

Yemen is caught in “the world’s largest hunger crisis,” which is “man-made” and is starving “an entire generation.” (Washington Post, May 19)  According to U.N. figures, more than 7 million Yemenis are close to famine.

The World Health Organization has warned of “the worst cholera outbreak in the world” in Yemen. (CNN, Oct. 4) The U.N. counted 777,229 cholera cases as of Oct. 2, many of them in children.

Saudi bombing of sanitation and sewage infrastructure in this impoverished country is a major cause of the deadly epidemic. Yet this desperate crisis was not on the U.N.’s agenda, and is barely mentioned in the media as world leaders met in New York in September. The media focus was on Trump’s talk of aiding the Rohingya.

The U.S. State Department has pledged to provide “emergency shelter, food security, nutritional assistance, health assistance, psychosocial support, water, sanitation and hygiene, livelihoods, social inclusion, non-food items, disaster and crisis risk reduction, restoring family links, and protection to over 400,000 displaced persons in Burma and in Bangladesh.”

Remember that the U.S. military is engaged in bombing, drone attacks, targeted assassinations and starvation sanctions against at least eight Muslim countries on any given day: Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Sudan.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provides no rights for any of the peoples living within its borders. Minority religious communities and millions of immigrant workers, even after living there for generations, are not counted as citizens. Its vast oil wealth is owned by one family: the House of Saud.

Saudi Arabia has played its reactionary role by funding extremist groups, often with the quiet support of the U.S., in Afghanistan, Syria and across the Middle East. Increasingly in South Asia, Saudi-influenced political and religious extremism is having an impact.

Saudi Arabia spends over $1 billion to fund 560 Wahhabi mosques and Islamic centers in Bangladesh, which borders  Myanmar. This means a new center of reaction in almost every village and town in Bangladesh. Similar funding has been long underway in India and Pakistan.

U.S. pivot to Asia

U.S. and Saudi support for the Muslim Rohingya is based on the U.S. declared “pivot to Asia.” For U.S. strategists, it is a way to block Chinese influence in a strategic region.

Eighty percent of China’s needed oil and much of its trade passes through the Malacca Straits — a narrow choke-point between Indonesia and Singapore — and into the increasingly tense South China Sea. U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups stationed there could easily blockade this movement of needed resources.

To counter U.S. aggressive moves, China’s development programs are aimed at diversifying and finding ways around a direct confrontation with U.S. military power.

China is building a deep-sea port, industrial park, and gas and oil pipelines at Kyauk Pyu in Myanmar on the Bay of Bengal. This would provide China with an alternative route for energy imports from the Middle East that avoids the Malacca Straits. The multibillion-dollar construction project is also enormously beneficial to Myanmar’s economy, aiding development of its gas fields. U.S. and Saudi intervention in the escalating Rahingya struggle threatens this development project.

There is no region in the developing world, whether in Asia, Africa or Latin America, where U.S. imperialism, in its present stage of decay, plans to assist desperately needed economic development. The U.S. economy is geared to super-profits through war, weapons sales and onerous debt. U.S. imperialism can only continue its domination by disrupting the development of any potential competitors or economic bloc of competitors.

Divide-and-rule tactics

By consciously supporting and inflaming both sides of a national struggle, the cynical Western imperialist powers are employing a longtime divide-and-rule tactic meant to dominate a whole region by becoming the outside arbiter.

U.S. imperialists have done this in many international crises. In Iraq, the U.S. built bases in the Kurdish region while claiming to support the unity of the Iraqi state. Playing on this division has strengthened the ruinous involvement of the Pentagon in the region.

In the Philippines a sudden insurgency of a minority Muslim population on the island of Mindanao has become the latest excuse for the U.S. to offer joint training and stationing of its troops there.

Myanmar refugee camps in Bangladesh may become recruitment areas for the Islamic State group (ISIS) and staging grounds for future interventions, said Forbes, a magazine about corporate finance, last July 11.

Pentagon plans for expanded intervention, coordinated with Saudi organization and funding, can be seen in this warning by the Center for Strategic and International Studies:

“There is legitimate concern that the violence will attract outside forces. Now that thousands of battle-hardened, ISIS-affiliated foreign fighters are seeking new missions beyond a shrinking Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, new opportunities to defend Muslims will inevitably appeal to them.” (Sept. 7)

All the countries of the region, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and China, have every interest in a peaceful reconciliation for the Rohingya people. The region needs coordinated development, not the enormous disruption of war.

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Who Is Responsible for Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar?


The Rohingya: Imperialism’s New Cause; [Part 1]


On the 15th of September the dead bodies of a family were discovered by Burmese security forces In Mayu Mountain Rakhine state. The family are believed to be Daingnet minorities. The murders have been blamed on the Arakanese Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA, formerly Harakah al Yakin) a terrorist group with links to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Myanmar’s Rakhine State has experienced a wave of violence since ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) terrorists attacked security forces on the 25th of August killing 10 police officers, 1 soldier, 9 security officers and several civilians.

The ARSA attacks were clearly timed to coincide with the report before the UN General Assembly of the Advisory Committee on Rakhine led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Dr Annan was appointed by the Burmese government to oversee an independent investigation of violence in the troubled region.

Numerous eyewitness reports in Myanmar say terrorists set fire to villages provoking an exodus, while others, including the Western corporate media, say the fires were lit by the Burmese military (Tatmadaw). There is no conclusive proof of who is responsible for the tragic exodus of Myanmar’s ethnic Bengali Muslim communities from North Rakhine State. But former US chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Burma, Pricilla Clapp contradicted US agencies when she told France 24 News that she believed the Takfiri terrorists were responsible for the burning of villages as well as laying land mines.

If Clapp’s claims are true, it strongly suggests that the terrorist insurgency in north Rakhine state is gaining in strength. The Islamist insurgency is estimated to be between 20 and 30,00 fighters. There are many accounts by Buddhist Muslim and Hindu villagers of being surrounded and attacked by the Takfiri terrorists.

According to American Burmese researcher Rich Heizman, almost all the inhabitants of Ye Bauk Kyar village, three miles from the Bangladeshi border, were hacked to death with machetes, swords and axes by the “Bengali” Islamist terrorists. 92 Hindus were also slaughtered in Kha Maung Seik village.

Mass graves of mostly Hindu villagers have been found near the Bangladeshi border. They are believed to have been murdered in August 2016 terrorist insurgency.

Hundreds of Hindu villagers remain missing. Some Hindu’s, captured by the terrorists, have been found in Bangladeshi refugee camps.

None of this evidence has been mentioned in the mainstream media reports. The horrific suffering of thousands of people has been deliberately and callously ignored. Instead, we are fed a constant, lachrymose refrain about ‘the world’s most persecuted minority’ and ‘genocide against the Rohingya’. The soundbites mask what may be a far more disturbing reality, namely that those screaming genocide are the very people behind the mass killing! The modus operandi is familiar to followers of the Syrian and Libyan wars where false-false terrorist atrocities, designed to gain maximum media attention in order to blame the targeted government, have been the norm.

The discovery of the massacre in the Mayu Mountain comes after the Asian Human Rights Centre (ACHR) recently called on the UN to dismiss its current Special Rapporteur for Human RightsProfessor Yanghee Lee, due to serious violations of the UN Human Rights Council’s Resolution 5/2 ‘Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council- article 3 General Principles of conduct.’

Professor Lee is accused of omitting to mention the terrorist groups who are responsible for atrocities. Lee has also been accused of grossly inflating the figures of Bengali (Rohingya) deaths.

The ACHR accuses the UN Special Rapporteur of failing to name the Takfiri groups for the killing of 3 Mro villagers on the third of August, 2017, 5 ethnic Daingnets in Kyandoe village on the 26th of August and 7 Mro people in Kan-Taing village, Maungdaw on the 28th of August.

The anti-terrorist operation in Myanmar is far from over with reports of thousands of terrorists still hiding in the jungle of the Mayu Mountains.

The whereabouts of thousands of victims remain unknown. Some Buddhist and Hindu refugees who fled to Rakhine State capital Sittway after the violence, have been transported by the military back to their villages. Many Buddhist refugees, who are a minority in Maungdaw township in north Rakhine State, have said they will never return to the area due to fear of more attacks.

Thousands of Muslim refugees remain in Bangladesh. Many of the community leaders are refusing to cooperate with Myanmar’s identity verification process, making repatriation impossible. Many Muslims in the refugee camps are also coming under pressure from terrorist groups such as ARSA. Half of North Rakhine’s Muslim community have remained in Rakhine State. But ARSA terrorists have also been murdering Muslim’s accused of collaborating with the Burmese military (Tatmadaw). All Myanmar Islamic Religious Organisation has condemned the terrorists and urged all Muslims to collaborate with the government.

The Burmese military has been accused of torturing and decapitating children. The claims are highly unlikely. In fact, it is far more likely that such atrocities are being committed by the Takfiri terrorists themselves. The Tatdadaw are highly trained soldiers who are armed mostly with Browning Hi-powder, Heckler & Koch G 3s and MP5 submachine guns. The photos of thousands of slaughtered victims have been released by the Burmese government. The bodies are badly mutilated with deep gashes from machetes, swords and knives – the main weapons of the Takfiri terrorists. The Western press is trying to play down the savagery of the ARSA terrorists, claiming that they are ‘lightly armed’. There is nothing ‘light’ about a machete or a sword in the hands of a lunatic Takfiri terrorist!

Since communal violence in 2012 where Mosques and Buddhist temples were attacked leading to the murder of Buddhists and Muslims, Myanmar has been targeted with a growing foreign-backed Islamist insurgency in north Rakhine State, where Bengali Muslims are the ethno-religious majority.

The Buddhist majority in Myanmar fear that if illegal Bengali immigration is not curbed, they may one day face the same persecution as their co-religionists in Bangladesh. Murders and rapes of Buddhists by Takfiri terrorists are regularly documented in Bangladesh, where the growing Wahhabi death cult is receiving copious funding from Saudi Arabia.

Since the destruction of the ancient statues of Buddha in Afghanistan by the Taliban in 2001, there have been growing religious tensions in South East Asia. The strategic objective of Western imperialism in Asia is to exploit those tensions by stoking sectarian hatred – a Huntingtonian ‘clash of civilisations’ which provides the pretext for ‘humanitarian’ intervention’ or ‘anti-terrorist’ counter-insurgency operations by the United States and its allies. The growing Buddhist/Muslim tensions provide Uncle Sam with the pretext he needs to counter the rise of China. Only in that context can one begin to understand imperialism’s new humanitarian cause- the Rohingya.

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Government of Myanmar’s Behaviour: Crime Against Humanity


On Monday 11 September 2017, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, one of the UN high-ranked officials, ranted at United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR), Geneva, condemning the behaviour of the government of Myanmar as “brutal security operation” against the people of Rohingya which was disproportionate to the operation of Rohingya insurgents took place in August 2017.

Hussein demanded from the government of Myanmar to bring its cruel military operation to a halt against the defenceless people of Rohingya.[i] The military operation in Rohingya hitherto has been condemned, on several occasions, by the UN and Amnesty International. On 5 September 2017, António Guterres, the secretary-General of the UN, demanded from the government of Myanmar to desist from its violence against Rohingya people.

According to the report of the UN, more than 313,000 people have been forced to flee from Myanmar to Bangladesh to date. António Guterres announced that this violence can destabilise the region.[ii] About 400,000 of Muslim ethnic minority in western Myanmar are exposed to the hazard of ethnic cleansing. The government of Myanmar has blocked the route of food, water, medicine, and first aid to Rohingya. Amnesty International declared those behaviours, against Rohingya Muslim minority, against the freedom of religion and the freedom of belief. According to the report of Amnesty International, rape, forced labour, arbitrary arrests, torture, and recruitment of child soldiers took place in the process of ethnic cleansing, and the government of Myanmar deliberately has refused from the help and assistance of Muslims in Rohingya.[iii] All the actions took place against the Muslims of Rohingya, by the government of Myanmar, are against the fundamental principles of international law.

Although the problem of discrimination against the minority of Muslim population in Rohingya is not a new problem, the situation of the region, especially after the attack of Rohingya insurgents on the police of Burma in October 2016 has deteriorated. In that attack 9 policemen were killed. The security forces of Burma responded those attacks with clearance operation and have impeded the interference of all humanitarian organisations in the region. Again, on 25 August 2017, when insurgents of Rohingya attacked 24 security sites and killed 12 policemen, the police of Myanmar arranged wider attacks against all the defenceless civilians of Rohingya, rather than separating between ordinary people and Rohingya insurgents.

No report of execution hitherto has been rendered. But it has been reported that the courts of Burma are issuing repeatedly the order of execution. Although the issuance of the orders is contrary to the order of the parliament of Burma in October 2016 according to which 1950 Emergency Provisions Act has been repealed, the courts, drawing upon other rules yet in force, are trying to issue more execution orders. Apart from executions by the orders of the courts, according to unofficial statistics, 3000 people have been killed to date.[iv] Soldiers and security forces of Burma shoot randomly at civilian people, rape women, set fire to villages, arrest the people arbitrarily and torture them.

Although the government of Burma has not been signed and ratified hitherto many crucial documents of human rights including Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), Burma was one of 48 states that voted in favour of Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. In addition to these, according to the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2006, in Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo, genocide is the infringement of peremptory norms (jus cogens).[v] Next year the ICJ suggested in the same case that the phrase “… Genocide … is a crime under international law …” in article 1 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) means that the rule of the prevention of genocide is a customary rule of international law. It is worth noting that CPPCG in 1948 has been adopted by the general assembly of the UN and became in force on 12 January 1951. CPPCG embraces an international recognised definition of genocide expressed in article 2 thereof. According to article 2 of CPPCG:

“…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily harm, or harm to mental health, to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Some jurists maintain that the actions of the government of Myanmar constitutes the infringement of the sections a, b, c of CPPCG, article 2. They suggest that the “intent to destroy” in states, i.e.mental element (mens rea), means the policy of destruction which is seen in the acts of the government of Burma against its Muslim minorities in Rohingya.

Whereas the verification of the “intent to destroy” is pretty difficult, and none of the Burmese officials has expressed explicitly their intention to destroy the Muslims of Rohingya, it can be asserted that the act of the government of Burma is “crime against humanity”.

According to the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda:

“Genocide requires proof of an intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group; this is not required by extermination as a crime against humanity. Extermination as a crime against humanity requires proof that the crime was committed as a part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population, which proof is not required in the case of genocide.”[vi]

Crime against humanity is also, according to reliable international documents, an infringement of international peremptory norms [vii] and, it goes without saying that, its exercise hurts the conscience of international community. Crime against humanity is a part of general customary international law and the language of international documents shows that this crime has a particular situation in international law. In its report of the situation of Myanmar in 2016/2017, Amnesty International, has used two times the term “crime against humanity” and attributed it, probably, to the government of Myanmar. According to the report:

“The response collectively punished the entire Rohingya community in northern Rakhine State and the conduct of the security forces may have amounted to crimes against humanity.”[viii]

Of course the date of the issuance of the report was the time in which the number of the dead had not yet been increased. With every passing day, by increasing actions of the government of Myanmar against international law, the opinion which adheres the thought that the government of Burma is committing crime against humanity is more amplified. An impartial bystander cannot disavow that “ethnic cleansing” in Burma is in process at the moment.

Grisly news attained from Rohingya discovers the depth of the crimes against Muslim minority population of Myanmar. The orchestrated irregular attacks by some radical elements backed by security forces against the people of Rohingya has culminated in losing lives of a considerable number of Muslims and has exacerbated the record of Myanmar in discrimination, injustice, and hopelessness. This exacerbation arouses the feelings of the people of the world, against the government of Myanmar, irrespective of their religion or nationality. In case of not paying attention to the organised widespread infringement of fundamental rights of Muslims of Rohingya, extremism increases and violation spreads even beyond the borders of Myanmar and destabilises the whole region.Expelling people from their own homeland and forcing them to emigrate from their own country cannot solve such a deep-rooted crisis. The government of Myanmar has to take the prolonged anxieties of its Muslim minorities and their plight into consideration and observe their rights effectively and recognise them like other Burmese civilians, protecting them against violation and discrimination.

International community, especially Muslim countries, expect from the government of Myanmar to bring current violations against the Muslim minorities of Rohingya to a halt, and provide their access to humanitarian aids with no limitation. It is also necessary for the government of Myanmar to bring the suspects to trial and take all necessary steps to prevent recurring such events. Unfortunately, no logical response, to this minimum demand of international community, has been received. It is also expected that the UN act as soon as possible and perform all necessary actions to obviate the anxieties of international community about the exacerbating situation of Burma. The protection of the UN from decreasing violence, and gaining assurance from rendering humanitarian aids and assistance to the people in need and finding a sustainable solution for such a crisis seems necessary and the UN must act as soon as possible.

Amir Abbas Amirshekari is PhD in International Law (University of Tehran, Iran), Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Johannesburg, South Africa (2014-2016), Advocate (Iran Bar Association). He can be reached at






[v] Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (New Application: 2002) (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Rwanda), Jurisdiction of the Court and Admissibility of the Application, 3 February 2006, para. 64.

[vi] Prosecutor v. Musema (Case No. ICTR-96-13-A), Judgment, 16 November 2001, para. 363. Also: Prosecutor v. Kajelijeli (Case No. ICTR-98-44A-T), Judgment and Sentence, 1 December 2003, para. 751.

[vii] The 1993 International Tribunal For the Former Yugoslavia and the 1994 International Tribunal for Rwanda statutes include the Statute of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, U.N. SCOR, 48th Sess., 3217th mtg., at 1, U.N. Doc. S/RES/827 (1993) and the Statute for the International Tribunal for Rwanda, U.N. SCOR, 49th Sess., 3453rd mtg., at 1, U.N. Doc. S/RES/955 (1994), and address Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, and War Crimes. The 1996 Code of Crimes includes these three crimes plus Aggression. See Draft Code of Crimes Against Peace and Security of Mankind: Titles and Articles on the Draft Code of Crimes Against Peace and Security of Mankind adopted by the International Law Commission on its Forty-Eighth Session, U.N. GAOR, 51st Sess., U.N. Doc. A/CN.4L.532 (1996), revised by U.N. Doc. A/CN.4L.532/Corr.1 and U.N. Doc. A/CN.4l.532/Corr.3; Crimes Against U.N. Personnel, in M. CHERIF BASSIOUNI, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW CONVENTIONS (1997 in print) [hereinafter BASSIOUNI, ICL CONVENTIONS].

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