The Genocide You Have Never Heard of: The Case of the Rohingya People

Eva Albers
In haar masterscriptie heeft Eva Albers onderzocht of de precaire situatie van de Rohingya moslims in Myanmar onder het huidige internationaal recht een genocide is. Indien dat zo is, kan de zaak van de Rohingya dan voor het Internationaal Strafhof in Den Haag gebracht worden?

“The Genocide You Have Never Heard of: The Case of The Rohingya People”

U leest tegenwoordig elke ochtend krantenartikelen over de Rohingya moslims die naar Bangladesh vluchten, weg van vervolging in hun thuisland Myanmar. Verschrikkelijk, maar toch wel best ver van uw bed. Wie zijn die Rohingya, en waarom vluchten ze nu precies?

In haar masterscriptie heeft Eva Albers onderzocht of de precaire situatie van de Rohingya moslims in Myanmar onder het huidige internationaal recht een genocide is. Indien dat zo is, kan de zaak van de Rohingya dan voor het Internationaal Strafhof in Den Haag gebracht worden?

Om het drama van de Rohingya te begrijpen is een goed begrip van de recente geschiedenis van dit volk onontbeerlijk. Albers’ scriptie opent dan ook met een historische reconstructie van wat de Rohingya’s is overkomen in Myanmar sinds 1948, toen het land onafhankelijk werd en boeddhisten er de macht kregen. De Rohingya (een specifieke groep moslims die samen met boeddhisten in de staat Rakhine wonen) zijn met ongeveer een miljoen en worden door de boeddhisten gezien als indringers, “Bengali”. Ze zijn het slachtoffer van systematische discriminatie en onderdrukking. In 1982 werd hen het staatsburgerschap officieel ontnomen waardoor ze nu feitelijk staatloos zijn. Ze zijn geen volwaardige burgers van Myanmar en kunnen bijgevolg niet stemmen – laat staan verkozen worden – of hun rechten afdwingen voor een rechtbank. Bovendien is het hen verboden naar publieke plaatsen, scholen of ziekenhuizen te gaan.

De spanningen in Rakhine escaleerden voor het eerst in 2012. Een boeddhistische vrouw zou door een moslimman zijn verkracht. Boeddhistische burgers namen het heft in eigen handen en vermoordden een groep Rohingya moslims. Het leger en de boeddhistische religieuze leiders grepen niet in, integendeel, ze namen deel aan het geweld. De jacht op de Rohingya was geopend. In de jaren die volgden werden Rohingya geslagen, verkracht, ontvoerd en vermoord. Hun huizen werden in brand gestoken en overlevenden werden in afgesloten kampen gestoken zonder toegang tot sanitair, medische of humanitaire hulp.

Na deze historische reconstructie focust Albers op de juridische aspecten van haar onderzoek. Ze geeft een overzicht de materiële en mentale voorwaarden van een genocide zoals die in de Genocideconventie van 1948 zijn vastgelegd. Vervolgens analyseert ze andere, bekendere genocides uit de twintigste eeuw en onderzoekt ze welke juridische gevolgen deze genocides hebben gehad.

Aan de hand van deze vergelijkende analyse en rapporten van internationale humanitaire en mensenrechtenorganisaties over de situatie in Rakhine concludeert deze scriptie dat de situatie van de Rohingya in Myanmar inderdaad aan alle voorwaarden voldoet om als een genocide te worden erkend.

Het antwoord op de tweede onderzoeksvraag – kan de zaak van de Rohingya dan voor het Internationaal Strafhof in Den Haag worden gebracht? – is een genuanceerde afweging.

Hoewel genocide een juridisch beladen term is die de interventie van de internationale gemeenschap vereist, wijst de geschiedenis uit dat het niet vanzelfsprekend is dat daders verantwoordelijk worden gehouden voor hun acties. Door de internationale politieke en economische belangen die in Rakhine in het spel zijn, lijkt het weinig waarschijnlijk dat er ooit gerechtigheid zal komen voor de Rohingya. Myanmar is immers een geopolitiek bijzonder interessante plek voor de wereld gezien haar nabijheid bij China en India. China heeft bovendien een pijplijn die door Rakhine loopt, cruciaal voor zijn zijderouteproject. Tevens hoopt China in de nabije toekomst een diepzeehaven te bouwen op de “vrijgekomen” gronden in Rakhine. De internationale gemeenschap wilt haar diplomatieke relaties met de jonge democratie niet op het spel zetten door zich te mengen in een intern conflict. De kosten (het zenden van onderzoekscommissies, humanitaire hulp en het opleggen van economische sancties bijvoorbeeld) zouden te groot zijn ten opzichte van de baten (het redden van mensenlevens).

Aangezien het geweld gesteund wordt door de regering en militaire leiders van Myanmar kunnen de Rohingya niet op (politieke of juridische) hulp uit eigen land rekenen. Myanmar is geen partij van het Internationaal Strafhof, wat betekent dat enkel de VN-Veiligheidsraad de zaak eventueel nog aanhangig zou kunnen maken bij het Hof. China is echter een permanent lid van deze Raad en heeft bijgevolg een vetorecht. De kans dat de VN-Veiligheidsraad de verdediging van de Rohingya op zich zal nemen is dan ook vrijwel onbestaande. Dit is een duidelijk voorbeeld van de politisering van de VN-Veiligheidsraad. Bovendien heeft het Hof geen universele jurisdictie, en bestaat er ook geen duidelijkheid over de verplichting van derde staten om juridisch te interveniëren in geval van een zware internationale misdaad zoals genocide.

Eva Albers’ masterscriptie, afgerond in de lente van 2017, kwam dan ook tot het even onbetwistbare als onbehaaglijke besluit dat de situatie van de Rohingya de pijnlijke tekortkomingen blootlegt van het Internationaal Strafhof en van het internationaal recht in het algemeen. De ontwikkelingen van de laatste maanden in Myanmar en Bangladesh lijken dit besluit alleen maar te bevestigen.

Momenteel is Eva Albers verbonden aan het European Inter-University Center (EIUC) te Venetië, waar ze een bijkomende European Master in Human Rights and Democratization volgt.

Bibliografie

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• MEDIA ARTICLES

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“‘There Are No Homes Left’: Rohingya Tell of Rape, Fire and Death in Myanmar”, The New York Times, 10 January 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/world/asia/rohingya-violence- myanmar.html?_r=1;

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“Pope Francis decries atrocities on Rohingya Muslims”, Al Jazeera, 8 February 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/pope-francis-decries-atrocities-r…- 170208110807388.html;

“Pope Francis Rebukes Myanmar Over Treatment of Rohingya”, New York Times, 8 February 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/08/world/asia/pope-francis-rohingya-mus…;

“China, Russia Block UN Council Concern About Myanmar Violence”, Reuters, 17 March 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya-un-idUSKBN16O2J6;

“Myanmar Army Chief Rules Out Rohingya Citizenship”, Al Jazeera, 27 March 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/video/news/2017/03/myanmar-army-chief-rules-ro…- 170327141825350.html;

“Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi Exclusive Interview”, BBC, 5 April 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39510271;

“Aung San Suu Kyi Denies Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya”, Al Jazeera, 6 April 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/aung-san-suu-kyi-denies-ethnic-cl…- 170406081723698.html.

• RESIDUARY
Hitler’s Obersalzberg speech, August 1939, http://www.armenian-genocide.org/hitler.html;

Interview with Tomas Quintana by International Bar Association, http://www.ibanet.org/Conferences/111526274.aspx;

Interim Report of the Investigation Commission of Maungtaw, 3 January 2017, http://www.globalnewlightofmyanmar.com/interim-report-of-the-investigat…- maungtaw/;

USA Sanctions Program: https://www.treasury.gov/resource- center/sanctions/Programs/pages/burma.aspx.

 

Universiteit of Hogeschool
Master in de Rechten
Publicatiejaar
2017
Promotor(en)
Prof. Dr. Koen Lemmens
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