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The Rohingya Crisis Bears All The Hallmarks Of A Genocide

It is time to get tough on Aung San Suu Kyi and refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court

REPORTS from parliamentary select committees are usually mild affairs. Often a consensus is forged out of competing party-political interests. Few committee members want to rock the boat too much.

This makes the report on the Rohingya crisis out on May 22nd from Britain’s International Development Committee even more striking. “Bangladesh, Burma and the Rohingya crisis” is as direct and hard-hitting at it gets. In the words of Stephen Twigg, the committee chairman, the report calls for “a decisive shift” in Britain’s relations with Myanmar.

It is a damning indictment on the Burmese government and Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of the country. When Myanmar seemed to be undergoing a dramatic democratic transformation in 2012 Britain was one of the first to embrace the former military dictatorship. It is the second biggest aid-donor to the country after America.

As the old colonial power it retains an outsize influence on the country’s politics. And as Ms Suu Kyi was married to a Brit and lived for many years in Oxford, the British government is supposed to have privileged access to the top.

This makes the committee’s report particularly striking. And they do not hold back. The committee argues that the process of turning the country into a democracy has proved to be largely illusory, and that in some respects the country is going backwards.

The report also refers to the “deliberate, state-sanctioned, long-term ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people” which “some argue [is] genocide”. This falls just short of calling the fate of the Rohingya people a genocide. But it is not far off. Mr Twigg says he agrees with the UN special rapporteur that it bears the “hallmarks of genocide”.

Consequently, the report argues that Britain should use its membership of the United Nations Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC). So far the British government has refused to do this on the grounds that the UNSC would be very unlikely to reach a consensus on supporting this, so there is no point in trying.