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“The struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma is a struggle for life and dignity

“The struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma is a struggle for life and dignity
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Adv Sayed Mujtaba Hussain & Manjot Singh Kohli

Where politics bugs are finding a bush to creed on, human rights activists as usual are failing to defend the rights of Rohingyans of Burma. For too many years now the human rights abuses has maintained a great pace in Burma. Clear is the fact that at this very moment it is being totally exposed but of course with new and at times ever unspecified latest. After taken up the interest of the whole nation as well as other countries, the inhumane genocide is widely being condemned and whole humanity is embarrassed. This article discusses the plight of the Rohingya, an ethnic group in Myanmar who has been suffering an institutionalized persecution and discrimination since the administration of military junta. The paper argues that the Rohingya is facing a serious threat of genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, while the government of Myanmar has failed in its primary duty to protect them. Due to such failure, the responsibility to protect them falls on the international community to prevent the occurrence of mass atrocities under the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
While the scale and severity of the violations in Burma has required sustained effort by the international communities, the world has done too little to carter these human rights violations. Despite the recognition of the existence of these violations by many UN organs for over a period of time, the different security counsels including  UN and OIC has failed to act to ensure accountability and justice. It is the world’s most silent genocide. Under the UN Geneva Convention, the definition of genocide describes both a mental and physical element: “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such,” and includes killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

the government of Myanmar is carrying out genocide against its 1.3 million Rohingya Muslim population – one that is being ignored, in the most part, by the international community, despite acknowledgement by the United Nations that mass killings, disappearances, torture, gang rapes, brutal beatings, property dispossession, and forced deportations are occurring in increasing frequency and ferocity.

The UN’s 2017 report into Myanmar’s savage “crackdown” on the country’s northern Rakhine state described the violence as likely “crimes against humanity,” and that “the gravity and scale of these allegations begs the robust reaction of the international community,” but the international community, particularly Western leaders and media continues to ignore Myanmar’s systematic extermination of Rohingya Muslims.

The devastating cruelty to which these Rohingya children have been subjected is unbearable – what kind of hatred could make a man stab a baby crying out for his mother’s milk. And for the mother to witness this murder while she is being gang-raped by the very security forces who should be protecting her,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Cruelty that includes the slaughter of babies and young children with knives; deliberate destruction of food supplies, and the burning and looting of entire villages. Of 101 Rohingya Muslim women interviewed by the UN, more than half said they had been raped or sexually assaulted.

Even though UN resolution is released every year calling on the Burma Government to respect human rights, many locals have lost hope for the UN to help people out of this blinded massacre. This has lead to a deep- seated mistrust and grievances in Burma and all over the world. As to carter the present situation, there is a vital role to be played by the UN. Under the principle of R2P, the government of Myanmar and the international community has the responsibility to protect the Rohingya who are on the verge of genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The series of violence on the Rohingya has been roundly condemned in statement, and many international government, regional bodies, human rights organisations and individuals, all call for immediate interference by the international community to stop the above threats against the Rohingya. In spite of the call, the government of Myanmar has persistently taken the issue of Rohingya as a communal strife between the Rohingya and Arakanese and urged the international community to stay away from its internal affairs. Although there are some efforts done by the government of Myanmar to manage the crisis, they are insufficient and only provide short-term solutions. From that account, the article argues that the government has not taken sufficient efforts to stop the violations of human rights of the Rohingya and failed in its duty to protect them; these leave the vacuum of protection to be fulfilled by the international community. In the discussion that follows, the article examines the Rohingya case through the prism of R2P and explores the way forward for tripartite cooperation between the government of Myanmar, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations (UN) as a solution to protect the Rohingya. R2P: EMERGENCE AND EVOLUTION R2P emerged due to the alleged failure of the world community to respond accordingly to civil conflicts and humanitarian crises prevalent in the 1990s. After NATO’s controversial intervention in Kosovo, which began on 24 March 1999 (Cassese, 1999), the UN was divided between those who strongly hold to the traditional notion of state sovereignty and those who insisted on the right of humanitarian intervention (Chandler, 2010). At the Millennium Summit 2000, the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan challenged the international community to reconcile the issue of sovereignty and protection (Annan, 2000). In response to the challenge, the Canadian government offered willingness to discuss and propose a new framework for humanitarian intervention aimed at reconciling the conflicts between the State sovereignty and protection of human rights. The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty was established and it produced its report in 2001. The report remarks the history of R2P, and according to Stahn (2007), offers the most comprehensive explanation on the concept of R2P. In Paragraph 203 of the Report of the United Nations Secretary General on High-Level panel meeting on threats, challenges and change (HLP Report, 2004), R2P is referred as an ‘emerging norm.’ The most remarkable development of R2P happened in 2005, whereby R2P was unanimously endorsed by 191 Head of States in the World Summit 2005 (United Nations, 2005). Paragraph 138 of the World Summit Outcome Document 2005 states that individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and the international community should encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility. Paragraph 139 lays down the affirmed in various General Assembly and the Security Council’s resolutions. It was adopted by the consensus of UN members in one of its largest gathering of Head of States in history, the World Summit 2005. Thus, R2P will not be simply fading away, especially with numerous and continuous efforts in advancing R2P.International community’s responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the UN Charter, to help to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from the four specific crimes of mass atrocities, the international communities are prepared to take collective action through the Security Council (SC) in a timely and decisive manner. R2P also includes responsibility to prevent, in situation where it is not bravely conscience shocking but has the possibility of reaching it and responsibility to rebuild the society damaged by the mass atrocities (ICISS Report, 2001). R2P is being criticised as lacking of substance (Hehir, 2010), preserving the interest of certain powerful States, especially the Permanent Five (P5) (Ayoob, 2002) and eroding the principle of non-interference (Bellamy & Davies, 2009). Although it has not attained the status of legal norm, R2P has a substantial normative power and will be more significant in the future. Although R2P is received with mixed feelings, it does not mean that the principle itself is wrong. This article argues that despite the critics, in reality, R2P is still relevant that it has been affirmed in various General Assembly and the Security Council’s resolutions. It was adopted by the consensus of UN members in one of its largest gathering of Head of States in history, the World Summit 2005. Thus, R2P will not be simply fading away, especially with numerous and continuous efforts in advancing R2P.

At the same time it is highly condemnable if india will deport the Refugees to which they are trying to. Because the Constitutional protections of Article 14, Article 21 and Article 51(c) of the Constitution of India, which provides equal rights and liberty to every ‘person’. And this principle would fall foul of the principle of ‘Non-Refoulement’, which has been widely recognised as a principle of Customary International Law.India has ratified and is a signatory to, various Conventions that recognize the Principle of ‘Non Refoulement’,  that prohibits the deportation of refugees to a country where they face threat to their life. Further, the Constitution of India under Article 51(c), a Directive Principle of State Policy, also requires fostering respect for International Law and Treaty Obligations. India  failed to carry out their obligations to ensure protection to the Rohingya Community by proposing to deport the Community to their home country of Myanmar, where they face serious persecution.”.

After all the tweaks and peeps what could be said is that it’s high time to intervene and save the   innocent lives. The world leaders must step in and pressurize the government of Myanmar to stop the  genocide and protect the rights and lives of innocent people.

Adv Sayed Mujtaba Hussain & Manjot Singh Kohli are human rights activists and can be reached at

Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position of Oracle Opinions.

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