Amal de Chickera in openDemocracy [h/t: Ram Manikkalingam]:
2. ARSA terrorists and the Burmese state – the world judges the perpetrators, not the crime
The most immediate reactions to the events since 25 August were very insightful. Many countries were nuanced in their response to the atrocities committed by the Myanmar military, which were touted as a “clearance operation”.
They were quick to point out the state’s right to protect its territorial integrity, and were supportive of state efforts to root out terrorism. No state questioned if the ARSA attacks were the excuse Myanmar had been waiting for, or looked at the atrocities in the context of Myanmar’s decades-long track record on the Rohingya.
The gripe was with the degree of force used by Myanmar and its indiscriminate nature. It was not with the fact that force was being used at all. And so, Myanmar was called on to carry out its clearance operation with restraint. This is akin to asking a rapist to in future, only commit sexual harassment.
By contrast, condemnations of ARSA – the fledgling militant outfit – were fast, furious and uncompromising. The killing of 12 police officers was condemned without qualification; not so, Myanmar’s killings, rapes, arsons, forced expulsion etc., of Rohingya in the hundreds of thousands.
This duality of response is telling of a deeper (perhaps the deepest) problem in global politics. And it is not just limited to state responses. States are at the centre of the status quo, and states will be extremely conservative and cautious in their criticisms of other states, while being liberal and (almost) uninhibited in their criticisms of actors who confront or threaten states.