DAP is distressed and alarmed by “the heightened publicity attacks” against Rohingya.
The DAP’s Political Education Director penned an op-ed today titled ‘Why we should be kinder to Rohingya refugees’.
Liew Chin Tong (see below) took to task “the vitriol against a defenceless people” mounted by unkind Malaysians as well as slamming “the hard-line and xenophobic sentiments generated by the Perikatan government”.
The previous Harapan gomen was kinder to the Rohingya compared to the present Muhyiddin administration, he thinks.
Under Mahathir 2.0, they looked for ways “to give some form documentation and work permits in designated sector to the Rohingya”.
Indeed, some of these migrants found work in the Gardenia factory, leading to the bread brand acquiring its nickname ‘Roti Rohingya‘.
‘Rohingya are Bengali and Bengali are Bangla’
According to DAP’s Liew, the Perikatan government is now takkng a “harsher approach” towards Rohingya.
”The Rohingya here are vulnerable and marginalised, subjected to abuses by employers and occasional extortion by enforcement officers,” said Liew.
Alluding to the ‘You’re not welcome’ poster (see below), Liew characterized recent statements by Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin and Immigration DG Khairul Dzaimee Daud as “xenophobic and threatening”.
Liew also said the Rohingya had “suffered genocide at the hands of the Myanmar military” (which is an unproven accusation).
The DAP should not exaggerate with ‘genocide’ claims just to make our gomen look bad for refusing to let the Rohingya boats into our territorial waters.
Helen’s notes on the ‘genocide’ word:
The charge of ‘genocide’ against Myanmar was brought before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in November 2019.
In January this year, the then government of Aung San Suu Kyi filed preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of the Court.
Myanmar’s objections are likely to delay proceedings by at least a year.
There has certainly been no finding of ‘genocide’ against Myanmar as the case has not even taken off as yet.
So not only is Liew jumping the gun with his claim that the Rohingya “suffered genocide at the hands of the Myanmar military”, he is simply wrong in his prognosis going by precedents.
There is a legal standard to meet in order to prove genocide and these cases take many years to resolve.
In 1993, Bosnia instituted proceedings in the ICJ against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia) for the alleged crime of genocide.
On 26 Feb 2007 – after a fourteen year wait – the ICJ ruled “there is not enough evidence to prove Serbia bears state responsibility for genocide during the Bosnian war” — see Global Policy Forum report, ‘ICJ Bosnia Ruling Sets Important Precedents’.
Commenting on the ruling, Prof. Marc Cogen said it “clarifies international law in the sense that genocide should not be taken lightly and [should be applied] only in serious cases, where there is a planned approach of extermination”.
Cogen, a professor of international law at Belgium’s Ghent University, told Radio Free Europe that the media should only use the word ‘genocide’ if they could maintain the important distinction between this ultimate crime and other grave crimes like ethnic cleansing.
“The word [genocide] has probably been overused to qualify multiple situations, said Philip Grant, the head of a Swiss-based human rights organization.
DAP’s Liew is using the ‘genocide’ label as a blunt instrument to indirectly bludgeon Perikatan for refusing to grant Rohingya asylum and refugee status.
The term ‘genocide’ was coined by Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in the 1940s and adopted by the UN in 1948. The Greek root word ‘genos’ means ‘race’ while ‘cide’ is an English suffix meaning ‘to kill’:
- genocide — kill a race
- homicide — kill a human being
- suicide — kill one’s self
- fratricide — kill a sibling
- infanticide — kill an infant
- insecticide — (chemical with which to) kill an insect
- regicide — kill a king
- tyrannicide — kill a tyrant (note the name T-Rex, short for Tyrannosaurus Rex, the ‘King of Tyrant Dinosaurs’)
By invoking ‘genocide’, Liew is saying the Burmese soldiers killed an entire race (Rohingya). That’s patently untrue.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) estimated at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in Aug-Sept 2017 which sparked the exodus to Bangladesh.
Compare. In the four-and-a-half months since the coup broke out in Myanmar this February, at least 850 people have been killed by Burmese security forces.
It is not only the Rohingya who have been killed by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military). Buddhists belonging to the Bamar ethnic majority are being shot dead during street protests occurring in the cities of Yangon, Mandalay and elsewhere.
The Tatmadaw are also fighting sectarian wars against armed groups of ethnic Kachin rebels, Karen rebels, Ta’ang rebels, Kokang rebels as well as the Rakhine Arakan Army who are Buddhists.
They have even arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and are detaining her on trumped-up charges. The Burmese army is not persecuting the Rohingya alone.
They target everybody and have not singled out Rohingya for genocide.