By Muhammad Mussa
The Justice For Rohingya Minority (JFRM) held a roundtable discussion Monday in London on the genocide against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims and offered solutions to the crisis.
The panel of speakers included Peter Oborne, an author and columnist for the Daily Mail, Catherine West, an MP and member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on International Trade, Richard Cockett, editor and columnist at The Economist, Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, and S. Sayyid, a professor at the University of Leeds.
Also attending the event were leading Rohingya activists Abdullah Faliq, Nurul Islam and Kyaw Win.
Moderating the event was Peter Oborne, who began the discussion by clarifying that the atrocities being perpetrated against the Rohingya were a genocide and that the international community’s silence and lackluster response allowed the perpetrators to get away without any accountability.
“It should be known that what is happening to the Rohingya in Myanmar is a genocide, and it is a genocide that has been occurring for the past six years” Oborne said.
“That this [genocide] has been and continues to be underreported doesn’t lessen the fact that it is a genocide, and the abysmal response by the international community allows the perpetrators to continue with the atrocities without any fear of accountability whatsoever,” he added.
Oborne also said that holding such events and discussions was key to spreading awareness of the plight of the Rohingya Muslims and to push for policy changes in government regarding its position on the crisis and its standing at the UN Security Council.
Richard Cockett of The Economist spoke on how the recent atrocities against the Rohingya are not a new phenomenon and that Rohingya have for decades experienced routine persecution and oppression from Burmese authorities.
Cockett spoke on how the Burmese government would prevent economic and social development from taking place in Rohingya communities in Rakhine state, not offer any employment opportunities for Rohingya Muslims and restrict their freedom of movement and expression. Such oppression, Cockett said, has driven the Rohingya to desperation and the recent genocide has stripped them of their identity, livelihood and normality.
Discussing the role the UK can play in bringing an end to the genocide was Catherine West, who said that Britain should use its influence at the Security Council and table a motion in which Burmese government and military officials should be brought before the International Criminal Court and prosecuted for crimes against humanity.
“The UK can play a leading role in ending the crisis and bringing to justice the perpetrators of this awful crime,” West said, adding that “as a permanent member of the Security Council, the UK should push for a solution, whether it be sanctions or prosecution by the ICC, to bring an end to the genocide”.
Last week, the UN released a report calling for an investigation into Burma’s top military officials, stating they should be prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Rohingya Muslims.
Justice for Rohingya Minority is a diverse group of lawyers, jurists, academics, campaigners, professionals and community leaders joining forces in a legal campaign for the prosecution of those responsible for crimes against humanity in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, according to its website.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, more than 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community.