International Community Must Take Action Against Mistreatment Of Rohingya, Work To Stop Wartime Sexual Violence, Support Victims

New York Times: When Victims of Wartime Rape Are Scorned
Riada Asimovic Akyol, writer on gender, nationalism, and religion and Ph.D. candidate at Galatasaray University in Istanbul

“Last month, Human Rights Watch published a report confirming that Myanmar’s army is engaged in the mass rape of Rohingya Muslim women and girls as a tool of ethnic cleansing. That report was followed, last week, by an article from the Associated Press that established the same set of facts: the use of ‘sweeping and methodical’ rape as a weapon of war. … The reports … all called to mind similar stories from my country, Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 women experienced brutal sexual violence, both inside and outside numerous ‘rape camps.’ … Today, there is no more war in Bosnia. But more than two decades after the fighting ended, it is the lingering effects of this wartime sexual violence that remain among our most open wounds. … In the case of the Rohingya I worry especially for the future of the women who have suffered these mass rapes: They might be in the news for now, but as in Bosnia, could later end up marginalized, silenced, and abandoned to their traumas, even by some members of their own community. … The same tragedy that took place in Bosnia should not recur with the Rohingya. The genocide must be stopped, and the victims of sexual violence should be given the support, the rights, and the respect that they deserve” (12/18).

New York Times: Is This Genocide?
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist

“…[I]ncreasingly there are indications that the carnage [against the Rohingya] may amount to genocide. … There is no easy solution to possible genocide; there never is. But accountability helps, so there should be a major push to prosecute Myanmar military officials in the International Criminal Court. Judges can resolve whether these crimes against humanity also amount to genocide. An open letter from 58 human rights and aid groups has rightly called for targeted sanctions on Myanmar officials. The House of Representatives this month passed a resolution denouncing the ethnic cleansing, and both the Senate and the House have bipartisan legislation pending that would impose sanctions on Myanmar officials, yet it seems unlikely to become law any time soon. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has commendably described the situation as ethnic cleansing and has said that ‘the world can’t just stand idly by and be witness to the atrocities.’ But I fear that’s exactly what is happening. … We do know that international sanctions and pressure matter to Myanmar’s generals, because those were what led them to step back and hold elections. But so far there hasn’t been enough pressure exerted to stop the barbaric treatment of the Rohingya…” (12/15).

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