Silence Surrounding the Rohingya

The lifeless body of a 16-month old Rohingya boy, Mohammed Shohayet, was found laying face down on the bank of River Naf at the Bangladesh-Burma border. Although reminiscent of the photograph of Kurdish-Syrian Alan Kurdi, neither this photograph nor the conflict in Burma have received nearly as much attention as the crisis in Syria. Of course, although coverage is important, it has not necessitated action in either conflict.

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group in Burma (also known as Myanmar), mainly residing in the Rakhina State. While the conflict in Burma has not yet been declared a genocide, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) compiled a report last May on the early warning signs of genocide. The Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide found evidence of a variety of key warning signs, including physical segregation of the population, restrictions on both marriages and births, constraints on movement, and physical violence. And since the release of this report, additional and increasing troubling information has continued to flow from the nation, with the most recent report by the United Nations documenting crimes against humanity. Media organizations have had limited access to the Rakhine state as the government continues its propaganda campaign, but recently leaked footage captured police officers attacking a group of Rohingya men. The government later arrested the officers and stated that the beating was an isolated incident, while claiming similar footage from the previous month was faked. As a result of the conflict, tens of thousands of Rohingya are displaced and have tried fleeing to neighboring countries on boats, only to be rejected.

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International Influence or Western Dominance: Rwanda, the ICC, and Beyond

“Be as humble as you are curious.”

Few statements could speak so directly to the dynamic of the room as these, when President Paul Kagame addressed the crowd in a talk last month at Yale University. The leader was invited to speak at the university to present the Coca-Cola World Fund Lecture, and the reaction to his arrival was incredibly mixed across the campus. He encouraged the audience to have an open and empathetic perspective on global affairs, one which leaves room for cultural divergence in opinion and policy. During this speech, a group of faculty and students lead a “teach-in” outside of the event, echoing critiques from Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International about human rights concerns within the country. The commentary continued through extensive coverage in various media outlets, both positive and negative. The nation of Rwanda and Kagame’s RPF party are no stranger to controversy, with the academic and policy conversation often taking on quite the polarized tone. Continue reading “International Influence or Western Dominance: Rwanda, the ICC, and Beyond”