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The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention New report: High risk of genocide in Burma
Steven Kiersons
9 September 2013
 
The Sentinel Project has released a report assessing the risk of genocide against Muslim minorities in Burma and has found the risk level to be high in light of intensified persecution.
 
The initial enthusiasm surrounding recent political reform in Burma has recently given way to reminders of the dark legacy of the nation’s past. Among the most notable of these expositions was a July 2013 cover story published by Time Magazine in which journalist Hannah Beech showed that the specter of past crimes against humanity, including genocide, have resurfaced in Burma and that extremist forces in the country have focused their attention upon the Muslim minority within the Buddhist-majority state.
 
In May 2013, in response to the mounting threat against the Muslim Rohingya population in Burma, the Sentinel Project launched an intensive research initiative into the current situation in Rakhine State and Burma as a whole. The purpose of this work was to explore the threat against the Rohingya and provide advanced warning in the event that genocide was found to be imminent. The result of this work – combining analysis of structural factors in the newly-released risk assessment with open-source monitoring tools such as Threatwiki and confidential sources inside Burma – has shown the Rohingya to be at a high risk of genocide, whether by violent extermination or by the slow destruction of the group through isolation and starvation.
 
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The Sentinel Project’s risk assessment concludes that, apart from outright violent extermination (i.e. mass killing) of the Muslim Rohingya minority, two conditions would need to be observed in order to declare the campaign against the Rohingya genocide: (1) continued ethnic cleansing and ghettoization of the Rohingya and other Muslims, and (2) continued isolation and deprivation of internally displaced persons (IDP) camps.
 
Rather than reducing the risk of mass killing, states in transition, whether from democracy or authoritarianism or authoritarianism to democracy, have been found to be more at risk of mass killing than those which are firmly at one end of the spectrum or the other. Thus, while Burma’s apparent democratization may present the commonly-believed image of a nation backing away from military rule, brutal treatment of minorities, and the brink of genocide, its current transitional state may actually place it in a precarious position that augments the risk of genocide. (…) The Sentinel Project’s ongoing monitoring work will be particularly focused on determining whether Burma changes course or continues on its current path.
 
Click here to read the full report.
 

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