Tuesday, June 8, 2021
By Shelby Logan (June 8, 2021)
It has been four months since the February 1st military takeover of the civilian government of Myanmar. Not only did the coup stifle democracy: It endangers women in Myanmar as the military has a history of gender-based violence. Activists fear that continued control would result in a rollback of hard-won women’s rights, but even more immediate are the ramifications of military rule for the Rohingya.
The military coup puts the livelihood of 600,000 Rohingya, currently living in Myanmar, in jeopardy. Since August of 2016, the Burmese Military, Border Guard, and police forces have conducted a systematic campaign of brutal violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State, with Rohingya women bearing the brunt. The Rohingya have been denied free movement, citizenship rights, access to healthcare, the right to marry and the right to choose how many children to bear.
Before the coup, the military’s persecution of the Rohingya had already escalated to the point where, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC authorized an investigation into crimes against the Rohingya that are within the Court's jurisdiction. Because Myanamar is not a party to the ICC, the investigation is limited to crimes where one of the elements or part of the crime took place in Bangladesh, a state party to the Rome Statute.
More recently, The Gambia filed a case on behalf of the Rohingya against Myanmar with the International Court of Justice alleging violation of the Genocide Convention. The complaint identifies elements indicating genocidal intent: among them, the restrictions on the Rohingya’s ability to marry and bear children, the prevention of free movement including internment in detention camps, and hate campaigns aimed at demonizing the group. The complaint lists genocidal acts including mass executions of Rohingya men, the targeting of children, and the massive scale commission of rape and sexual violence against women.
Although the United States announced sanctions targeting the leaders of the coup, many were already subject to sanctions for the military’s treatment of the Rohingya in recent years, proving that sanctions have been inefficient in stemming the violence. History has shown the consequence of allowing genocide to go unpunished. The international community must work together to force Myanmar to cease its heinous treatment of the Rohingya.