Citation: Lee, R. (2019). Myanmar’s Citizenship Law as State Crime: A Case for the International Criminal Court. State Crime Journal, 8(2), 241-279. doi:10.13169/statecrime.8.2.0241
Abstract: This article argues that Myanmar’s authorities subject the Rohingya to human rights violations that can be accurately described as the crime of apartheid. Myanmar’s discriminatory application of its citizenship laws and processes is central to this crime, yet while Myanmar is not a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the court’s jurisdiction remains limited. However, Myanmar’s government has brought this crime to the territory of International Criminal Court (ICC) member state Bangladesh. Because Myanmar’s government insists upon Rohingya participation in discriminatory citizenship processes as a precondition of refugee repatriation to Myanmar, this presents the ICC with an opportunity to assert its jurisdiction. While current ICC investigation focusses mostly on alleged crimes committed by the Myanmar military, crimes associated with Myanmar’s citizenship processes would likely be the responsibility of Myanmar’s civilian government, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, making Myanmar’s civilian political leaders liable for the first time to ICC prosecution.
Rohingya Muslims remaining in Myanmar’s Rakhine state still face a “serious risk of genocide,” U.N. investigators said earlier this month. They warned that the repatriation of a million already driven from the country by the army remains “impossible.”
Myanmar’s authorities, however, have declared Rakhine state safe enough for Rohingya refugees that fled to neighboring Bangladesh to return.
Sadly, the authorities of Bangladesh appear increasingly willing to accept Myanmar’s assurances that now is a suitable time to begin the repatriation. This fails to understand the cause of the crisis and risks further harm to the vulnerable, maligned Muslim community. Read the full article at the Globe Post here.
My article about state media in Myanmar was published in a special issue of the International Journal of Communication about Extreme Speech and Global Digital Cultures. The complete issue can be accessed by visiting the International Journal of Communication.
Lee, R. 2019. “Extreme Speech in Myanmar: The Role of State Media in the Rohingya Forced Migration Crisis”. International Journal of Communication, 13(2019): 3203-3224.
Abstract: This article considers the role of the state authorities in perpetrating extreme speech and the processes by which state power is used in normalizing hateful expressions against minoritized communities. Drawing attention to Myanmar’s 2017 Rohingya crisis, a human rights and humanitarian catastrophe, the article examines how the state media publication, the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, has actively produced anti-Rohingya speech in its editions and influenced violent narratives about the Rohingya Muslims circulating on social media. It shows how official media contributed to a political environment where anti-Rohingya speech was made acceptable and where rights abuses against the group were excused. While regulators often consider the role of social media platforms like Facebook as conduits for the spread of extreme speech, this case study shows that extreme speech by state actors using state media ought to be similarly considered a major concern for scholarship and policy.
Politicizing Islam: The Islamic Revival in France and India, by Z. Fareen Parvez. New York, Oxford University Press, 2017, xiv+269pp., £59(hardback), ISBN 9780190225247
Z. Fareen Parvez’s book Politicizing Islam: The Islamic Revival in France and India examines the lived experiences of Muslims and considers the limitations and dangers of accepting simplistic contemporary stereotypes of faithful Muslims. This is compelling subject matter at a time when openly religious Muslims are frequently assumed to harbour radical sympathies and can face discrimination and violence. ……
You can read my complete book review for Ethnic and Racial Studieshere.
If there’s anything positive about the sprawling Rohingya refugee camps near Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, it’s that the residents – despite their appalling recent experiences and obvious deprivation – are at least safe here from Myanmar’s military. Read my article for The Conversation here.
Irish observers of the Rohingya refugee crisis will find disturbing similarities between Myanmar’s mistreatment of the Rohingya and formative aspects of Ireland’s own history. Read my article for Village Magazine here.
In Myanmar, Buddhist nationalist groups have used Facebook to swamp public opinion with anti-Muslim speech. As elected representatives are pressed to follow these extreme views, Myanmar is showing the world how unreined social media can hurt democracy. Read the article at AsiaGlobal Online here.