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Myanmar Atrocities Equals Genocide


Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey (Photo for education only)

Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey (Photo for education only)

Interview by Erol Avdovic - Myanmar and the plight of the Rohingya Muslims there has similarities to the genocide in Bosnia, Muhamed Sacirbey (Šaćirbegović), former ambassador to the United Nations and foreign minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina said in a exclusive interview for Webpublicapress (WPP).


The United Nations has already called atrocities in Myanmar a school example of ethnic cleansing, but failed short to call it genocide as ambassador Sacirbey pronounced. Some 7000 Rohingya were killed since violence in Myanmar started Doctors Without Borders reported recently which almost equals the number of Bosnian Muslims killed in Srebrenica genocide in 1995.


Answering to a question weather UN learned its Bosnian lessons to be applied on other, this former Bosnian highest ranking diplomat at the UN said there are also two critical differences, between Bosnia then (1992 – 1995) and Myanmar (Burma) now.


“We, Bosnia and Herzegovina had our government to defend the targeted populations from genocide while in this instance the Burmese Regime, regardless of the rhetoric of change, has not only failed to protect but appears to be instigator and perpetrator. Also, this does not have the characteristic of an international aggression but rather “Crimes against humanity” whether committed by rouge elements or the Regime. The similarities also reflect the delays, in effect avoidance by the international community to respond affirmatively as is the obligation under the Genocide Convention, and as was seen in Darfur.


WPP - What would be your suggestions or advise to United Nations Secretary General based on your UN experience, how to handle or navigate this issues among divided global interests including Trump’s Administration hesitation to sanction regime in Myanmar?


Muhamed Sacirbey former foreign minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Courtesy author's photo - for education only)

Muhamed Sacirbey former foreign minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Courtesy author’s photo – for education only)

“The UN Security Council not only has the option but affirmative obligation to confront the genocide. This probably necessitates ‘Chapter 7 action’, whether sanctions and/or a protective force. Unfortunately the UN, as was the case with Bosnia and Herzegovina, has become the place on whose doorstep “problems for hell” are dropped off, particularly by the P-5 (UN Security Council Permanent-5 members: US, UK, France, Russia and China), as means to disperse, obfuscate and thus avoid more direct, decisive response. Even the term “ethnic cleansing” is intended to minimize the challenge and crime by not using the legal term genocide, again very similar to Bosnia and Herzegovina where (Radovan) Karadzic and (Ratko) Mladic (both war criminals convicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia – ICTY, for crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the war from 1992- to 1995) improvised the term “ethnic cleansing”, thinking that such did not sound as bad, perhaps even appropriate, when applied on Muslims.”


WPP – Knowing what we know and having those mistakes from war in Bosnia that as UN secretaries general Kofi Annan first said, and then repeated by his successors Ban Ki-moon and now Antonio Guterres – haunt our history and the United Nations – how Myanmar should be treated in order to avoid obvious?

UN on East River (Photo by Hajat Avdovic Webpublicapress)

UN on East River (Photo by Hajat Avdovic Webpublicapress)

“The culpability of the Myanmar regime and its officials should be referred to the ICC (International Criminal Court). This of course may not stop the perpetrators NOW. However, it will give them pause from feeling and acting as if most UN Security Council (UNSC) members are either willing to look away or simply claim helplessness. Beijing here must be particularly put in position to rein in the Regime or be exposed. The Regime (in Myanmar) sees China on the UNSC as in effect being an ally and shield. In meantime, maximize humanitarian assistance and review options for protective force, or at least observers, to halt the “ethnic cleansing” and perhaps facilitate some return. Particularly if return is not safe, not possible consider claims of damages, remedies for the targeted victims, something that can be pursued via the Rome Statute and ICC.


WPP – What are your thoughts on Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) – Nobel laureate who has disappointed many with her silence? Perhaps you have advise for her?


“Four or five years ago I wrote an article for The Huffington Post, “Anug San Sui Kyi, Silence to Genocide.” Now, it is evident that it is more, and I would investigate ASSK for “complicity.” Her excuses and denials have provided cover for the crimes and their extension. As a Nobel winner she has a special obligation because she is credited with higher ethics and sensitivity to such crimes committed against any group or individual. If nothing else, as member of the Myanmar Government she is legally duty bound to confront crimes within her own circle. During the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I was always cognizant of this responsibility even if not always successful. We believed that we had an obligation to all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was Karadzic, Mladic and (Slobodan) Milosevic (former president of Serbia, accused for war crimes in Kosovo war 1999, died in ICTY custody on March 11 – 2006, without being sentenced) of who identified “Bosniaks” as targets for genocide and sought to have the Sarajevo Government respond in kind. We understood both this ethical, legal and political trap – all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina were our responsibility. In this instance, ASSK and her Government do not recognize this responsibility but are making it worse by denying the identity and humanity as well as citizenship of Rohingya. They refuse to even call them by such name.”


WPP – So you have no doubt that Aung San is complicit and should be hel accountable now?


Rohingya-Border-Thousands-of-new-Rohingya-refugee-arrivals-cross-the-border-near-Anzuman-Para-village-Palong-Khali-Bangladesh.-Photo-UNHCR Roger-Arnold

Rohingya-Border-Thousands-of-new-Rohingya-refugee-arrivals-cross-the-border-near-Anzuman-Para-village-Palong-Khali-Bangladesh.-Photo-UNHCR Roger-Arnold

“ASSK again has been complicit or at least not living up to her Nobel Laureate. I have not received the same honors, recognition as ASSK. Nonetheless, having been the diplomatic, public face of Bosnian victims I understand it my duty to speak for Yazidi, Christian or Rohingya, and whether the perpetrator is ISIS or Burmese Government. ASSK has enjoyed a much greater recognition but now it appears not only undeserved but has been employed to further ethnic cleansing. Like me, ASSK has been a guest of Bono (Vox) at his home in Ireland a few years ago, and those that have been duped by ASSK also now have an obligation to expose her and demand a response consistent of the person we thought she was. I used to be a supporter of ASSK in her efforts to transform Myanmar to the country she verbally advocated. Having failed us and some of her citizens she must be held accountable, perhaps via the rule of law but certainly by our clear demand for her to be accountable and responsive.”

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