The ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas and crimes against humanity, perpetrated by the Myanmar military, have been heinous enough. A report crafted by the United Nations has now taken the lid off a pretty kettle of fish.
It renders the establishment in Naypidaw, nominally helmed by Aung San Suu Kyi, under a cloud further still. Given her calculated silence on the Rohingya issue, a forthright statement on the scam that plagues the military is unlikely to be forthcoming any time soon. The army, which has been the bedrock of governance for close to three decades, has been accused of having procured technology valued at £74,050 from a company called Veripos and based in the United Kingdom. Myanmar being Myanmar, the scam is unlikely to upset the applecart, still less impact the cantonment despite the double whammy that the Tatmadaw (the Myanmarese term for military) has suffered.
The deal is proposed to be mentioned in Myanmar’s military budget, scheduled to be presented later this year. Veripos will provide sophisticated navigation system technology to the military, which had spearheaded the violent crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state in August 2017, when villages were razed, tens of thousands were killed, women were raped and 700,000 fled over the border to Bangladesh.
The UN fact-finding mission’s first report in 2018 had concluded that the security forces had carried out gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity and that the military’s targeting of Rohingyas had “genocidal intent”, verily the worst since the Second World War. The report, advanced on Monday, is clear in its condemnation of the foreign companies doing business with the military in Myanmar in any capacity. “Any foreign business activity involving the Tatmadaw poses a high risk of contributing to, or being linked to, violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law,” it said. It is by any reckoning a resounding message to the authorities, one that ought to resonate in the echo chambers of the Security Council and General Assembly. But the withers of the authorities in Naypidaw may yet remain unwrung.
Apart from occasional condemnation of the government and the military, the UN has scarcely been able to lessen the persecution of Rohingyas. The primary reason has now been spelt out by the world body itself ~ “The military operates as a state within the state but it’s even more than that: in so many respects, it is the state in Myanmar. It remains the dominant economic and political player, and that’s the fundamental problem confronting the future of the country.
Until the military does not have this economic power, there can be no serious future for human rights in the country”. The UN has hit the bull’s eye. Without tangible correctives, the military scam can only be of academic interest.