By STAND Canada Blog Writer, Liam Nolan
The international community has come together repeatedly to chastise Myanmar’s government for its treatment of their Rohingya Muslim minority. However, at the center of the growing crisis is the country’s lack of transparency. The nation has banned journalists and humanitarian workers from entering Rakhine State, where the majority of Rohingya live and where the most concerning reports of persecution are emerging from. While the UN recently announced that they would send a fact-finding mission to investigate claims against the country, Myanmar has been tremendously resistant to outside interference and has already indicated that they will block the fact-finding mission.
The decision to send a fact-finding mission was made shortly after the UN released a report on the increasingly dire situation in the country. The report was based on interviews with 220 Rohingya refugees who had fled to Bangladesh. These testimonies indicated that Myanmar’s security forces have committed crimes – such as mass murder and gang rape – that “very likely” amount to crimes against humanity. There are also indications that ethnic cleansing may be taking place in the area.
In response to the UN’s widely supported resolution, Myanmar ambassador Htin Lynn said: “Such kind of action is not acceptable to Myanmar as it not in harmony with the situation on the ground and our national circumstances. Let the Myanmar people choose the best and the most effective course of action to address the challenges in Myanmar.”
This resistance isn’t new. Prior to the UN’s announcement of its investigation, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak accused Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, of allowing a “genocide” to take place in her country. Aye Aye Soe – the deputy director of foreign ministry – responded: “They criticise us without hesitation based on news reports from different places, including news from unreliable sources, without discussing the issue like a good neighbour. We are deeply sorry about this.”
In both of these statements, spokespeople for Myanmar doubted the veracity of the claims against them, while simultaneously not allowing the people they’re accusing of being misinformed to actually investigate the situation in the Rakhine. External investigation, if they are not engaging in activity that could constitute genocide or ethnic cleansing, can only absolve them of those accusations. However, they’re refusing to allow others to get a picture of what’s actually happening in the country. As such, the Burmese government is directly impeding initiatives to find out what’s happening to the Rohingya and to make sure that justice is upheld for them.
It’s not certain whether or not Myanmar will acquiesce to the UN’s investigation and allow them into Rakhine State. In a recent speech, Suu Kyi said that she would not allow the fact-finding mission to investigate. However, at this point, it seems that — without proper investigation or more extreme resolutions — a real investigation will not be able to take place. Myanmar’s intransigence prevents those suffering from getting the help they need and having their voices heard. With the conflict in the country growing bloodier, these investigators access is integral to assessing the situation and keeping it from deteriorating further by making an informed intervention.
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