As is common with delegations from the country in question, Myanmar/Burma was denied access to the conference regarding the genocide in Burma late last month. The conference in Berlin gathers together leaders and scholars from all over the world, particularly Europe, to discuss and encourage leadership from various countries to take action against the Burmese government for what the UN has described as “textbook ethnic cleansing.” In attendance were various leaders and scholars, and individuals from the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum, Policy Journal of the University of Washington School of Law, and the Permanent Peoples Tribunal on Myanmar — to name a few.
So far, over 690,000 Rohingya refugees have fled for their lives into the refugee camps of Burma. Local Burmese media outlets estimate that 90% of the Rohingya in Rakhine State, Burma, have been displaced from their homes.
Also in attendance was Yanghee Lee, Burma’s UN special envoy on human rights in Myanmar. She has been barred reentry from the country, another point at which the international community has criticized — they have continuously hampered investigations and aid efforts from both the UN and private aid organizations alike. Early last month, Lee said in a statement that,
…attacks against ethnic minorities are not a new phenomenon. The atrocities committed against the Rohingya in the aftermath of the 9 October 2016 and the 25 August 2017 attacks have been – as highlighted by the Karen National Union in its statement last year marking the two-year anniversary of the nationwide ceasefire agreement – repeatedly witnessed before, albeit not on the same scale of the recent attacks against the Rohingya. I was told repeatedly by the other ethnic groups I spoke to – be they Kachin, Karen, Karenni, or Shan – that they have suffered the same horrific violations at the hands of the Tatmadaw over several decades and – in the case of some groups – continuing today.”
She also said that,
Without equality, Myanmar will never be free from violence and the country’s tragic déjà vu will reverberate through the future as it has through the past. The cycle of violence must end, and Myanmar must be supported in implementing the profound and meaningful reforms that are so urgently needed. The democratic government can take the first step to a more hopeful future for Myanmar by making a break with the repressive practices of the past.”
It was a statement like this from June of 2017 that she attributes her banning from reentry to the country. Burma has been mired in violence long before the current Rohingya crisis, and even continues with violence in other areas of the country against other ethnic minorities to this day. Their cease-fire with the Karen people is on a razor’s edge, leaving many seriously concerned as to its future.
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.