Debating the definition of genocide will not save the Rohingya
Source: The Guardian
A UN report has accused the Myanmar military of genocide. The report is being taken, by some at least, as a call to action, with the UK’s foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, immediately promising to visit the country “to seek answers at the earliest opportunity”.
The UN passed the genocide convention, which defines genocide in legal terms, in December 1948. It sets out genocide as a series of actions – ranging from killing to imposing measures to prevent births – committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.
The question of whether what has been happening to the Rohingya in Myanmar can be defined as genocide is not a new one. It started well before the forced expulsions of a year ago. In fact, the accusation of genocide being perpetrated in Myanmar – against various groups – has been raised repeatedly over the last two decades. It is essential that today the attempt to define whether genocide has been perpetrated does not continue to serve as a distraction to addressing the situation itself.