Don't let Myanmar go Rwanda's way
12:00 AM, September 26, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:16 PM, August 27, 2019


Don't let Myanmar go Rwanda's way

It has been over three weeks that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had issued a letter, unprecedented in the last 28 years since the 1989 Lebanon conflict, to the Security Council for its action on the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. It has been about two weeks that the Security Council met behind closed doors calling for Myanmar to stop violence against the Rohingyas.

Since then it seems the Myanmar violence is going Rwanda's way – lots of talking but doing little which had prompted the then secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali to say in bristling anger “all of us are responsible for this failure. It is a genocide which has been committed”.

Just as the UN remained hamstrung when 800,000 Tutsis were killed in Rwanda in the face of complete disinterest of the US and other big nations, the same is being repeated in case of Myanmar. The UN is unable to take any stern actions such as sanctions and sending peacekeepers in the face of Chinese and Russian resistance.

Just like the case of Rwanda, different organs of the UN had sounded alarms about the Rohingya issue long ago. The UN special adviser on the Prevention of Genocide had pressed the red button in early February after last year's October massacre of the Rohingyas.

The special adviser had categorically said “This must stop right now. There is no more time to wait.”

Before him, the UN Human Rights Commission had reported “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.”

Nothing could move the world. It did not have time to pay heed to the cries just as it was the case in Rwanda.

After this prolonged foot-dragging seven countries including the UK, USA and France three days ago called on the UN to convene another meeting. Meantime, a fresh exodus of whatever little Rohingya population remained has started from Myanmar.  They are confined in small pockets in the style of Nazi concentration camps. More tales of horrors are emerging.

So is Myanmar going the Rwandan way? Not really. Because in the end, the peacekeepers landed in Rwanda, albeit too late. The country has been reconciled and reconstructed. A Tutsi man whose tribe had been the subject of genocide became its president. The wrongs had been righted after so many lives were lost. A Tutsi woman whose husband and children had been killed by her Hutu neighbor married the very same killer in the process. 

For Myanmar there is no reconciliation. No end to hatred. No mercy and no possibility for a happy ending. The six decades of systematic killings and ethnic cleansing find no solution in the devious posturing of Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi who blamed “terrorists” for “a huge iceberg of misinformation” about the violence. And her repeated denial of the atrocities by the military is an indication of how Myanmar is dealing with the humanitarian crisis.

In the end history may have to repeat and we might see another UN Secretary General apologise as Boutros-Ghali and Kofi Annan had for the world's failure in Rwanda. 

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