Open letter to the Director-General of UN Office at Geneva

by Hla Soewai - Feb 27 2020

Open letter to the Director-General of UN Office at Geneva from the concerned citizen of Myanmar. It has been delivered electronically.


Ms. Tatiana Valovaya,
United Nations Office at Geneva
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10

Dear Madam Valovaya,

I have a question on “Genocide” and your kind clarification is highly appreciated. The United Nations Genocide Convention, which was established in 1948, defined genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such" including the killing of its members, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately imposing living conditions that seek to "bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part", preventing births, or forcibly transferring children out of the group to another group.

In Bengali (rohingya) crisis in Myanmar, many people around the world, use the word “Genocide”. But the number of people killed in the armed conflict was about 10,000 (collateral damage) and Myanmar military stopped the counter insurgent operation as soon as terrorists fled the country. The main question is, why UN did not use the word ‘Genocide’ for the atrocities committed by Saudi-Arabia against Yemen people and also why UN did not use the word ‘Genocide’ for the slaughter of 600,000 Armenians, Assriyans and Greeks in Turkey and persecution of Kurdish people in Turkey.

If we look into the Yemen crisis, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition is responsible for more than 12000 innocent civilians (including children) killed (more than the collateral damage in rohingya crisis) and 1 million people in Yemen being blighted by cholera and over 1.8 million children suffering from malnutrition (far more than 730,000 Bengalis fled to Bangladesh). Yemeni people were killed and children were starved to death.

More details can be seen in Muslim’s very own Aljzzeera:

In the above link, Al Jazeera reported that at least 50,000 children died in 2017. In this same link, it is mentioned that the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), estimates that more than 3 million Yemenis have fled their homes, (far more than 730,000 rohingyas fled to Bangladesh) and those displaced Yemenis often must cope with a lack of food and inadequate shelter.

The United Nations Development Programme published a report in September 2019 stated that if the war continues, Yemen will become the poorest country in the world, with 79% of the population living below the poverty line and 65% in extreme poverty by 2022. This exactly meets the definition of Genocide, i.e. (the killing of its members, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately imposing living conditions that seek to "bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part"). It is appalling that UN do not use the word Genocide in Yemen crisis. Saudi’s atrocities on Yemeni people is genocide, according to the UN’s definition. Please kindly clarify why UN did not condemn Saudi-Arabia and did not use the word ‘Genocide’ in Yemen crisis.

Also if we look into Turkey’s genocide, 600,000 to 1.5 million Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks killed by Turkey. The report, by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, details how operations by the Turkish infantry, artillery, tanks and possibly aircraft drove up to half a million Kurd people from their homes over a 17-month period from July 2015 to the end of 2016. Kurdish people are still being persecuted. The UN should also condemn Turkey and branded Turkey as a genocide country. It is easy to find out more details about Turkey’s genocide in the internet.

When Bengali (rohingyas) fled to Bangladesh there was no blocking, no search and kill operation. Myanmar military let them go freely to Bangladesh. If they want to stay in Myanmar they can also stay. There are many rohingyas still living in Rakhine State, Myanmar. It is up to their choice. There was NO forced transfer. So this does not meet the definition of Genocide. Because of earthquake warning people have to evacuate; similarly because of armed conflicts people have to evacuate. After the counter-insurgent operation is over people can come back. If they don’t want to come back and tell their exaggerated stories to the reporters to get the golden opportunity to settle in rich western countries as refugees, it is their choice.

Compare this to Hitler’s Nazi troops killed Jews during world war II, Nazi troops blocked all the paths, no Jew must escape, all the Jews must be killed. But in the Bengali crisis, the Myanmar military never blocked their path to escape, the military just let them go, let them escape. So obviously there was no intention to destroy the whole or part of this racial group, so it does not meet the definition of genocide. If Myanmar military troops did not let them go, block their way to escape and search all those Bengali (rohingyas) and killed them all, only then it would be Genocide with intention to detroy this racial group. If there were real Genocide in Bengali crisis, more than 730,000 Bengalis could never escape to Bangladesh, perhaps 5000 or less Bengalis might escape and all the rest would be killed in Myanmar.

As mentioned in the UN Fact Finding Mission report page 18/ 441, No. 55 terrorist group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) recruited Bengali villagers to use knives and sticks to attack and kill Myanmar police, Hindus and Rakhine natives. Those Bengalis can sometimes become terrorists and sometimes become innocent civilians. It is difficult to know who and when a Bengali is terrorist or civilian. Myanmar soldiers could make honest mistakes in the armed conflict. So there were collateral damages. ARSA’s original name was Harakah al-Yaqin with suspected ties to ISIS. It is wrong to think that Bengalis are innocent victims, some of them are killers, murderers. Amnesty International and others reported that Bengali armed group killed many Hindus, Myanmar, women, men and children. You can verify that in Amnesty International reports. According to UN FF Mission report page 18/ 441, No. 56, ARSA has an operational group in Myanmar and groups based abroad, has ability to stage coordinated and simultaneous attacks across different locations in a tightly-controlled environment; has an ability to mobilise widely among the Bengalis at the time of attack. It was pretty much similar to ISIS operation.
"The ARSA is determined to thwart Daw Suu Kyi's good intentions to implement the Kofi Annan report. They want to brutalise the discourse in Rakhine and help re-militarise the area so that the narrative of torture and extra-judicial killings help them boost the level of jihad and find recruits," said a top Bangladesh intelligence official. Please see the link below.

Many people say the action of Myanmar military was as in the textbook example for ethnic cleansing, but no one mentions the name of that textbook, does that textbook really exist? I believe people abuse the word “Genocide” in this case. UN General Assembly should not condemn Myanmar and should not use the word “Genocide”. Anyway it is controversial to say that a certain action meets the definition of Genocide or not. This could lead to never ending arguments. So I stop arguing here. The main point is as follows in the next paragraph.

The UN is not fair, very unfair. The UN does not treat its member countries equally. It could seriously tarnish the image of the UN. The UN general Assembly condemned Myanmar but never condemned Saudi-Arabia and Turkey and never accuse them with genocide. If Bengali (rohingya) crisis is considered as genocide, then Saudi-Arabia and Turkey’s atrocities should also be considered as genocide. If the atrocities committed by Turkey and Saudi-Arabia are not considered as genocide, then the UN general Assembly should declare that there is NO genocide or genocidal intent in Myanmar and reverse the condemnation.

Win Myint

Calgary, Alberta