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  • Andre Lamartin

What We Choose to Ignore Reveals Who We Are

All it takes for evil to prevail is inaction. Babies torn from their mothers and cast into bonfires. Women gang-raped and murdered. Entire villages slaughtered and burned to the ground. Half a million refugees fleeing to a neighboring country. These are not scenes from World War II. This is taking place in Myanmar. Right now. Satellite imagery has documented the atrocities and surviving witness accounts abound. The international community must hold Myanmar accountable for this abominable violation of the Convention on Genocide, ratified in 1956. While half a million Rohyngia are living in squalid makeshift refugee camps in Bangladesh, another half a million Rohyngia are still facing ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council remains passively silent, thanks to Chinese opposition, Russian recalcitrance and Western indifference. The Rohyngia speak of genocide, but all they hear from the international community is the sound of silence. What we choose to ignore reveals who we are.

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

Approved and proposed for signature and ratification or accession by General Assembly resolution 260 A (III) of 9 December 1948

Article I: The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article III: The following acts shall be punishable:

(a) Genocide;

(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;

(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;

(d) Attempt to commit genocide;

(e) Complicity in genocide.

Article IV: Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.

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