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COLUMN: The genocide no one is acknowledging



Myanmar’s ambassador to Japan told the Japanese government Oct. 12 “there is no ethnic cleansing or genocide of Rohingya Muslims” in the country. 

Despite his words of assurance, almost 300,000 people left Myanmar to seek refuge in India and Bangladesh

And while the Burmese ambassador may be comfortable making that statement, the United Nations reported that there has been an increase in attacks against Rohingya Muslims to prevent them from coming back to Myanmar

These attacks have been ongoing since late August and the U.N. Human Rights Chief says the techniques are “textbook ethnic cleansing.” 

The situation is horrendous, but the worst part is that the United States and western society as a whole do not appear to care about ethnic slaughtering in the developing world.

This pattern is all too familiar. During the summer of 1994, the Rwandan genocide occurred, where the Hutu majority persecuted and murdered thousands of Tutsi people

It’s been compared to the Holocaust in terms of brutality and numbers killed. In two months, the population of an ethnic group was severely minimized. 

What was even more harrowing is that Ted Dagne, a researcher at the Congressional Research Service, admitted leaders of the developed world were aware of what was occurring in Rwanda at the time

Reports obtained from the U.S. Freedom of Information Act reveal then-President Bill Clinton and his cabinet knew the plan of the Rwandan government was the elimination of all Tutsi people from Rwanda

And yet, there was no response from the Clinton administration. 

Dagne wrote, “Rwanda was at the top of the failures list for the Clinton administration.” 

In 1998, Clinton apologized for the lack of U.S. response to the Rwandan genocide. He emphasized the “international community did not immediately call these crimes by their rightful name.” 

The United States said it would never again allow something like this to happen. Unfortunately, it just seems to be something our country's leadership says to placate the world without actually helping.

We are refusing to acknowledge genocide here and now with the Burmese Rohingya minority. 

A testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Oct. 5 detailed the situation in Myanmar but refused to declare that ethnic cleansing was occurring.  

There are almost half a million refugees in Bangladesh right now, and the numbers are increasing every day. While the Bangladeshi government is leading the operations, they are ill equipped to deal with the rising numbers of refugees.

The United States needs to interviene and help those facing persecution in Myanmar. Every year during Holocaust Remembrance Day, we claim never again. It's time to live up to the promise to protect people who are facing racial cleansing. 

The United States willingly chose not to act during the Rwandan genocide, and almost a million people died. We cannot go back in time, but we should call this was it is. 

This is genocide, and we need to treat it like one. 

npatwari@indiana.edu

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