Australia Refuses to Condemn Myanmar’s Genocide of Rohingya Muslims

W

hat the heck is up with Australia?

Not only do its toilets flush the wrong direction, flowing counter-clockwise, but also the country’s moral compass seems to be pointing down the tubes, too.

In recent years, Australia has tarnished its modern day human rights record in its inhumane and barbaric treatment and disregard for the world’s most vulnerable people — refugees who are fleeing the very wars and violence that Australia has played a significant and contributing role.

In recent years, Australia has rewarded its most racist and xenophobic political leaders with success at the ballot box, against a backdrop of rising anti-Muslim sentiment and spiking hate crimes against Muslims and immigrants.

In fact, a slew of data points to a conclusion that Australia is one of the most Islamophobic countries on the planet. Consider that while only 41 percent of Americans support a temporary ban on immigrants from a handful of Muslim majority nation states, a plurality of Australians (49 percent) support a permanent block on Muslims entering the country.

Today, Australia dived even deeper into the mud. Today, Australia declared itself a Muslim genocide denier, placing itself alongside nefarious states that have denied the biggest genocides of the previous century.

Today, Australia denied the genocide-taking place against 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

When asked about Myanmar’s systematic violence against Rohingya men, women, and children of which has been described by the United Nations as “text book ethnic cleansing,” Australia not only refused to condemn the genocide, but also provided diplomatic cover for the government of Myanmar by meekly issuing a statement that condemned “all sides, all abuses.”

Wait, what? The last time the leader of a state issued a “we condemn all sides” apology was when Trump provided cover for neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, several months ago. You remember the Nazis, right? — The guys who carried out the great genocide of the 20th century, whom are not dissimilar in nationalistic ideology to the extremist Myanmar government carrying out genocide against the Rohingya today.

So, Trump’s America apologizes for Nazis and Prime Minister Turnbull’s Australia apologizes for a military junta that is targeting the “world’s most persecuted minority.” The shared values of two white settler colonial states, some might say.

The United Nation’s 2017 report into Myanmar’s savage “crackdown” on the country’s northern Rakhine state described the violence as likely “crimes against humanity,” and that “the gravity and scale of these allegations begs the robust reaction of the international community,” but Australia chooses to side with India and China in denying the state violence being mete out to the more than 900,000 displaced Rohingya who have fled Burma’s death squads for their lives, and now find themselves living in horrific conditions along Bangladesh’s border and without food, clean drinking water, shelter, and medical supplies.

“What will it take for our government to draw a line in the sand with the Myanmar military so as not be to complicit in crimes against humanity in our region?” asks Diana Sayed, Amnesty’s crisis campaigner in Australia. “Any further delay will be a stain on our human rights record. We must show leadership and be on the right side of history.”

Earlier this year, Australia refused to support an international investigation into Myanmar’s atrocities against Rohingya Muslims. In fact, Australia’s statement at the UN Human Rights Council suggested it was happy to leave Myanmar alone to conduct its own investigation into its own human rights abuses, which is no less absurd a notion than the international community allowing Hitler’s henchmen to oversee their own trials at Nuremburg.

Human rights groups have broadly criticized Australia’s callous indifference at the council, describing its efforts as tantamount to whitewashing genocide, describing its response as “hopelessly weak.”

As it stands, Australia is fast becoming a pariah state in the eyes of many in the non-Western hemisphere, which given the country’s geographical location and dependency on good trade relations with its Asian neighbors, one must ask what drives this growing display of collective insanity?

Like the rest of the Western world in the post-9/11 era, Australia too has inhaled too deeply on the intoxicating drug that is nationalism, the one that tries to trick you into thinking that your “imagined community” is exceptional, unique, virtuous, and so darn loveable. It’s drug that helps you whitewash your country’s past transgressions, while allowing you to pretend you had personally contributed towards your country’s highest achievements.

But more than that, nationalism is a tool that allows the majority ethnic identity to define what is and who isn’t included in the “imagined community.” It’s a tool used to say, “We are this, and they are that, and while they remain that, they can’t be us.” It’s a tool used to determine who is worthy of the collective’s care and respect, and who is worthy of its disdain. Clearly Australia has determined Muslims to be outside the nationalistic Australian identity, and thus likely explains its disdain and mistreatment of Syrian refugees, and its heinous denial of genocide against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, the “world’s most persecuted minority.”

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