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Pay best tribute to Kofi Annan by stopping genocide in Myanmar -The Asian Age


Kofi Annan, the last UN General Secretary reaching the highest point of popularity in today's world, a few days ago at the age of eighty left this world which is turning towards the direction completely opposite to what he dreamt of.  His dreams were the same as the United Nations wishes to accomplish. But he saw his dreams getting lost in the hands of bad leaders during his time of global leadership as the UN SG. 

He saw how George Bush attacked Afghanistan and Iraq unilaterally and how the UN was being weakened by such other conducts. He did not have the power to prevent the US from undermining the global feelings of community. Then he saw Brexit and the election of Trump as America's president. 

He used to live in the world where world leaders "worked with each other". Then he saw a different world evolving and the pains he felt is revealed in this statement:  "But today, we have lots of little men in high places, and they don't always seem to understand the risks we are all in." (A Warning for World Leaders from Kofi Annan, by Farah Nayeri, The New York Times, Sept. 20, 2017)

I am, being not competent, not going to discuss this great person. I shall go to another point that is nearer me for dealing with after just quoting a few big persons who have paid fitting tributes to him. Kofi Annan strongly stood for the UN and global democracy. 

Ian Black mentioned: "In 1998 he ruffled feathers in Washington and beyond - in Bill Clinton's second term - when he said that Saddam Hussein was someone he could "do business with". (Kofi Annan: a kind statesman and a gifted diplomat, The Guardian, 18 August 2018)

Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, called Annan a 'leader of leaders' in his Project Syndicate article 'A Man for All Diplomatic Seasons' (Aug 21, 2018). Mr Brown wrote in his tribute, "In the last few months, I talked with Annan about Myanmar and the pathbreaking proposals put forth by his Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, which, even now, offer the best chance of reconciliation and an end to the crisis that has been destroying lives in that strife-torn country."

In fact, as long as the world keep's its eyes shut to the Rohingya genocide, all tributes paid to Annan by world leaders are phony. If Annan's words about the Rohingya crisis are not followed by actions in the political fields in Myanmar and across the globe, the politicians' tributes to him are nothing but customary, silent disrespect towards him and a trick to place him into the bin of forgetfulness.

In 2006, Aung San Suu Kyi requested the Kofi Annan Foundation and the Office of the State Counselor to establish an Advisory Commission on Rakhine State in order to examine the complex challenges and find ways to overcome these. After one year, on 23 August 2017, the commission submitted its final report to national authorities. 

At the news conference on this occasion, Kofi Annan, Chair of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, said, "Unless concerted action - led by the government and aided by all sectors of the government and society - is taken soon, we risk the return of another cycle of violence and radicalization, which will further deepen the chronic poverty that afflicts Rakhine State." "There's no time to lose. The situation in Rakhine State is becoming more precarious," he said.

But time has been lost and the situation in the Rakhine State has declined faster and reached a most precarious state since that report was published. A recent investigation by the United Nations has accused the Myanmar military of genocide against the Rohingya. 

The UN fact-finding mission recommended that the Security Council refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar's army, is one of six generals named for investigation and prosecution by this report for their war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

General Min and other senior officers, however, were thanked by the Annan commission for the cooperation they provided to complete the task of the commission. Suu Kyi was also thanked for her leadership in setting up the Commission. 

But the UN report says in a bolder fashion that the civilian authorities led by Suu Kyi "contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes" "through their acts and omissions" and by failing to use their positions to stop them. It clearly shows the deterioration of the situation in Myanmar.  

The Anan Commission made 88 recommendations which focus on various aspects of the crisis specifically on citizenship verification, rights and equality before the law, documentation, the situation of the internally displaced and freedom of movement, which seriously affect the Muslim population. 

The Rohingya genocide unleashed by the Myanmar military is the consequence of ignoring the report and taking no step in implementing its all or at least some major recommendations. 

Now there is no alternative to putting an effective international pressure upon Suu Kyi and her government to pay heed to these recommendations. Only this can pay a genuine tribute to Kofi Annan, the man who offered a very good plan to Myanmar for behaving decently in the global community, which, however, is being torn asunder by "lots of little men in high places" today.     


The writer is Executive Editor of SHIKKHALOK, a CDIP
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