Why ethnic cleansing is getting completely overlooked
By Katie Czenczek, Staff Writer
Just to start this off, I am also guilty. I, like many other people living in the west, knew next to nothing about the ethnic cleansing happening in Myanmar. I only learnt about it after people called for Aung San Suu Kyi’s Noble Peace Prize to be removed this September. This has been going on for much longer than that.
Muslim-practicing Rohingya people have faced discrimination for longer than I have been alive. In a documentary released by VICE News called Left for Dead: Myanmar’s Muslim Minority, it is noted that in 1982, the government of Myanmar stripped Rohingya people of their citizenship status. These people—who were displaced in 2012 in the Rakhine State—have been forced into internment camps and forbidden to leave by order of the Burmese government. They are considered the lucky ones who weren’t already murdered, enslaved, or picked up by human traffickers. They have no access to medical aid and the conditions differ drastically when compared to the refugee camps set up for displaced Buddhists.
All of this sounds horrifyingly like the ghettos set up by Nazi Germany to displace Jewish Germans. Yet why is there no international outcry? How come no intervention is taking place on the part of the United Nations? I believe that it is because there are no incentives for the UN to intervene. In fact, I think it is better for the United Nations if this genocide is completely swept under the rug.
In 2010, “military rule was replaced by a new military-backed civilian government,” taken from an article on BBC news. Aung San Suu Kyi became the de facto leader of Myanmar and won a Noble Peace Prize for her humanitarian efforts. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama visited Myanmar during this time, and promised to improve US-Myanmar relations if the country were to become more democratic and fair to its citizens. The UN also heavily endorsed this change in government, and it was described as a win for human rights. Though I agree that this was a huge step for a military-run government that only recently allowed for public demonstrations to occur, it heavily comes at the price of Rohingya people.
Worldwide outrage and intervention should not only occur if the intervening people get something out of it. The way that Myanmar is being dealt with is not only completely unacceptable, but I believe it also shows the United Nations to be compliant by allowing these atrocities to occur. This terrible oversight will be yet another marker in history of the UN not doing enough to stop evil people from killing innocents because of their religion, race, or ethnicity. Think of Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, and the countless other regions where the world has sat back and watched while genocides occurred. Myanmar does not need to be another nation on this infamous list.
I thought that the United Nations was created to keep peace and prevent further atrocities from occurring following the Second World War. If that isn’t the case—as established by the total and utter lack of action taken by the UN against Myanmar’s government—then what is the purpose of the United Nations?