In a report published in Geneva on Wednesday, the UN stated that the latest wave of violence and persecution of the Rohingyas in Myanmar was “well-organised, coordinated and systematic” and that the “clearance operations” had begun well before the insurgent attack on August 25 on police posts. The report has reconfirmed what was already known: that Myanmar's actions were a means to rid the country of the community and prevent their return. Even before this latest report, the UN had stopped short of calling the persecution a genocide. We wait on what exactly the UN will do now.
The current spate of persecution of the Rohingyas is not new; even before this, a study commissioned by the UN which provided ample warning against the situation we are witnessing today was suppressed earlier this year. What we look forward to now is how the UN will act after it has so far acknowledged the ethnic cleansing and now, the systematic, pre-planned nature of the violence. Even as the UN keeps “urging” Myanmar to stop the atrocities, Myanmar's commander-in-chief is claiming that the media reports have been “exaggerated”. How far will Myanmar be allowed to go, before the UN actually acts? The earlier stalemate at the UNSC when geopolitical interests of some of its members trumped humanitarian concerns goes to show that the UN has not been able to play the role that is expected of it.
The latest report presented survivors' statements about megaphones being used to announce before and during the attacks: “You do not belong here ... go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you.” Myanmar has persecuted the Rohingya community for decades, stripping them of their citizenship rights, killed their teachers and leaders, and committed the worst forms of atrocities. It is high time that the UN went beyond words.