Summary (gist and implications of findings) – 100/63 mots
• The situation in Myanmar is really complex and there is a possibility that the peace process may break down entirely because of the military political structure
• Transitional justice seems to be the best option realistically available to us. Our main concern isn’t to resolve the conflict immediately, but to maximise the chances of securing a lasting peace and create favourable conditions for democratization.
Context/Background (Social, politic, economic challenges) – 200 mots/205
The Rohingya crisis is the result of an ethnic conflict, taking place in the Rakhine state, in Western Myanmar. For decades, this Muslim minority has suffered legal and social discrimination from the Buddhist majority. Indeed, the government denied the Rohingya citizenship and the protection of their human rights with the 1982 Citizenship Law, which severely impacts on their mobility, access to education and health care (Weber and Stanford, 2017).
Today, Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in the world and even if the government is engaged in a process of democratic transition since 2011, the conflict has escalated in the last years because of the weak performance of the state (Southwick, 2015). The rise to power of Aung San Suu Kyi’s as Myanmar’s official State Counsellor in 2015 brought hope of prosperity and peace in the country. However, she’s heavily criticised for not speaking against oppression of the Rohingya, neither using the term “Rohingya” because it is highly controversial. They are treated as “foreigners” and referred to as “Bengalis” and not as Burmese citizens (Weber and Stanford, 2017).
In August 2017, thousands of Rohingya died and over 900,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh after military attacks of the Burmese army. Thus, the Rohingya are considered as the largest single group of stateless people in the world (The Economist, 2015).
CARTE DE MYANMAR + LEGENDE: Rakhine State has become a natural convergence point for Muslim and Buddhist communities.
Discussion of evidence in order to formulate and support your argument, outcomes I seek to measure – 400 mots/382
Numerous experts highlight that the Rohingya’s plight must be a “genocide”. Indeed, Rohingya people have been persecuted, deprived from citizenship and from their homes and forced to live into grim conditions lacking adequate access to food and healthcare. The majority of the country is suspected of latent islamophobia and accused of tolerate the abuses committed by the army. (Leider, 2018)
Nevertheless, it’s important that the analysis move beyond the binary set of perpetrators and victims to avoid the construction of normative interpretations of Rohingya victim issues. Indeed, since the mid-1990s, Western NGOs and Rohingya political organisation claimed for the recognition of the Rohingya as victims of an oppressive state but the purpose isn’t to only denouncing present injustice but also interpreting past developments (Leider, 2018). Some academics emphasize the importance of “shared blame” for past injustice, nevertheless, it’s not essential for a successful reconciliation in Rakhine state. (Gibson, 2006 in.Weber, 2017).
Furthermore, the articulation of Rohingya victimhood by human rights defenders has not driven positive change on Myanmar public perceptions of the Rohingya. On the contrary, it has resulted in a hardening of nationalist and extremist positions, particularly the Buddhists who helped to infame tensions through hate speech during the 2012-2013 inter-communal violence (Leider, 2018, Southwick, 2015). Buddhists monks issue several pamphlets denying the existence of the Rohingya, demonising them and calling for their removal from Myanmar’s territory. (Human Rights Watch (Weber, 2018))
Between 2011, when the government initiated a democratic transition, and 2017, the government lead by President Thein Sein did not put in place any structured approach to debate on the historical truth that had been running back about the Rohingyas for years (Leider, 2018). The silence around the “Bengali” issue hampered the process of open discussion.
There is not a unique response to come to terms with Burma’s legacies of violence and human rights abuses but our faith is that the national reconciliation is a priority, even more important than justice in the case of the Rohingya crisis. The current regime declared they are in favour of organised forgetting of abuses and blanket amnesty for past crimes committed by the states (Dukalkis, 2015).
Retributive or restorative? Findings (Draw a ccl based on the date/results analysed before) – 300/451 mots
A key issue of transnational justice is the core tension between retribution, to provide justice to victims of human rights abuses, and restoration, to facilitate an exit from conditions of authoritarianism through the rehabilitation of perpetrators (Dukalskis, 2015). Each option has yielded successes and disappointments, depending on how it was implemented and in what context.
In the case of Myanmar, Western actors strongly positioned in favour of retribution measures with judicial mechanisms because it is seemed as the only way to enforce the implementation of basic rights for the Rohingya. But according to the military rule, the economic strain and the lack of cooperation between local, regional and international actors, it is unlikely that it will be helpful to reconciling Myanmar. The demonstration of victimhood already mentioned before had nourished the determination that retributive justice will enforced Rohingya’s interests but in reality, pressing the issue of justice too forcefully can possibly lead to renewed violence and frustration. (Leider, 2018) However, even if justice isn’t the priority, when political realities allow, Burma should consider rather than ignores issues related to justice (Sarkin, 2000).
In order to implement restorative justice and non-judicial mechanisms, it is critical that each parties of the conflict receive tangible benefits, even if Rohingya people were the main victims of atrocities. There are three essentials elements of reconciliation: truth seeking, restitution, and settling the past (Rose, 2009).
• First, truth telling is crucial to the formation of a collective memory that would help Rohingya and Buddhists to settle the past and engage in the search for sustainable peace. Some research prove that extensive truth telling is relevant to achieving long-term peace in seven out to ten reconciliation cases (Long and Brecke, 2003). Moreover, the current government and security forces may regard a truth commission as a satisfactory alternative to trials (Alexander Dukalskis, 2015).
• Nevertheless, truth-telling may not be sufficient. Indeed, the truth commission is the consensual approach of transitional justice, situated between two complex mechanisms: trials and amnesties (Weber and Stanford, 2017). Even if it will have positive effects by socially sanctioning perpetrators and laying favourable foundation for reparations programs, some research find that they tend to be ineffective when they are the only mechanism. Thus, combined with trials and select amnesties, truth commissions may contribute to improvements in human rights and democracy (Olsen et al., 2010)
• The establishment of non-judicial mechanisms will require the involvement of numerous external actors (international community, neighbours states, private actors) but it is critical that local people participate in the decision-making procedure and how to balance retributive and restorative justice (Holliday, 2014). Moreover, by including local practices and customs, the reconciliation process would become more legitimate in the eyes of the Burmese (Lederach, 2012).
Recommendations (Existing debates and literature) – 288 mots
• Recognition of the existence of a conflict and of the Rohingya minority
The Myanmar government needs to make a public apology for the harm done to both the Rohingya and the Rakhine Buddhists (Weber and Stanford, 2017). The government should accept the responsibility of its exactions and indicate that there will be no repetition of such acts in the future.
Simultaneously, Rohingya people and other minorities must be willing to forgive the government and the population so they can work together to build a peaceful future (Long and Brecke, 2003).
In order to ensure this, a Truth Commission will be established with a domestic structure. The purpose is to acknowledge past human rights abuses and to open a dialogue between each parties and to enable victims’ voices to be heard (Holliday, 2014).
State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi is well place to lead this recognition process.
• Restitution of rights
The recognition of the Rohingya ethnicity should be reinforced by a recovery of their citizenship so they can recover their rights, be protected by the state and improve their live conditions. Without these measures, the Rohingya population will not be confident to come back to Myanmar.
The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State is well positioned to urge the restoration of Rohingya rights and dignity (Weber and Stanford, 2017).
In countries like Myanmar with a military rule, any attempt to prosecute past violations may provoke a rebellion. Thus, in this kind of situation, it may be preferable not to prosecute the perpetrators of atrocities. Even if the international law prohibits amnesties for certain gross violations of human rights, the compromise can be to punish the main perpetrators while offering amnesties in return for truth to others perpetrators (Sarkin, 2000).