Michelle Coleman is a Lecturer in Law at Swansea University
On September 17, 2021, Rehman Chishti and Knox Thames wrote a blog post for the New Atlanticist calling for the US and UK governments to label the crimes committed by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya Muslims a “genocide.” Specifically, they call for this label to be used by the United States and United Kingdom during the United Nations General Conference. They argue that identifying this situation as a genocide would remind the world that there is an ongoing conflict with atrocities being committed, create pressure that would discourage the new Myanmar government from continuing these atrocities, and encourage the US and UK to refer to matter to the International Criminal Court or use universal jurisdiction to prosecute those involved.
These are admirable goals. The Rohingya Muslims have suffered varying degrees of persecution since the 1970s. The situation escalated in 2017 however when Rohingya militants attacked 30 police posts. Myanmar’s army responded to those attacks by destroying at least 288 villages, killing thousands, and driving 700,000 Rohingya out of the country. The violence against the Rohingya people continues to this day.