Preventing Mass Atrocities Against the Stateless Rohingya in Myanmar: A Call for Solutions

Katherine Southwich
May 04, 2015

This article constitutes a call for solutions to the prolonged and worsening plight of the Rohingya, a largely stateless, Muslim minority based in western Myanmar. Over the past year, a number of experts have invoked the possibility of genocide against this group, citing a dangerous combination of ethnic and religious tensions, discriminatory deprivation of basic rights, restricted access to food and medicine, hate speech, and large numbers fleeing the country. Yet up to now, domestic and international responses to the Rohingya crisis have been weak, with serious consequences for this community, the prospects of democratic transition and rule of law in Myanmar, and the integrity of international law. This article highlights the basis for why the possibility of genocide has been raised and argues that the international community has legal obligations to act. These considerations could contribute to sharpening focus on the urgent need for regionally coordinated solutions, based on enforceable principles of nondiscrimination and inclusion, specifically guarantees of citizenship rights and protection. These are critical elements of democratic development in divided societies like Myanmar.