A world authority on genocide has told Sky News what is happening to Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims is undoubtedly genocide and the international community must intervene to prevent it.
As commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda in the early 1990s, Major General Romeo Dallaire warned that genocide was imminent but was ignored.
As a veteran witness of the mass killings in Rwanda, he has been warning of mass murder being planned in Myanmar, and now for the first time has told the Sky News World View programme that genocide is underway.
History, he says, is repeating itself.
He said: “It’s as if they wrote the same book that the hardliners did in Rwanda and how the international community is reacting is following the same book, and this after the great pieces of work like Responsibility to Protect which we’re all afraid to implement and operationalise.”
Responsibility to Protect was a UN-backed international agreement to prevent genocide happening again.
General Dallaire believes it has been discarded in the wake of the Rohingya crisis.
The UN has condemned Myanmar’s military operation against the Rohingya as “ethnic cleansing”.
The country’s authorities have been severely criticised for the attacks on the minority group in Rakhine State but criticisms have fallen short of using the word ‘genocide’.
Under international treaties, countries are obliged to intervene in cases of genocide, but there has been little appetite for intervention.
This is despite a programme of killings, mass rape, forcible displacement and the systematic burning of Rohingya villages. As many as a million Rohingyas have been forced to flee.
As Sky News reported earlier this month, thousands remain stranded on beaches and the land behind them has been mined by Myanmar’s military.
General Dallaire says he has seen the same methods used before.
He told Sky News: “You’re into the mist of a very slow moving and very deliberate genocide, there is no doubt in my military mind that the way they’re operating, the way they’re conducting, the way they’re using their forces.
“The way the government is camouflaging it.
“They’re all very significant indicators of genocide in operation. They want to wipe them out and they’ve said that’s what they operating to do”.
He is calling for an international military intervention to prevent and reverse the genocide and says where there is sufficient international will there should be a way.
General Dallaire said: “We put 60, 70 thousand people in ex-Yugoslavia. Why can’t we do that there?
“They’re more people being killed and martyred, more internally displaced refugees than there was in the whole Yugoslav campaign so it is purely will to intervene which is missing.”