Book Review – The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide

The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden GenocideBy Azeem Ibrahim. 235 pages. C. Hurst & Company, 2016. $23.50.

The rejection of citizenship rights for Rohingyas, denial of freedom of movement, eviction campaigns, violence against Rohingya women, forced labour, expulsion from their lands and property, violence and torture have made Myanmar’s ethnic Rohingyas the most persecuted minority in the world. I humbly add my voice to the simple demand of the Rohingya people: that their rights as our fellow human beings be respected, that they be granted the right to live peacefully and without fear in the land of their parents, and without persecution on grounds of their ethnicity or their form or worship.


Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, Foreword

In a few words, Muhammad Yunus encapsulates the plight of the Rohingyas and the essence of Azeem Ibrahim’s The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide (hereinafter “The Rohingyas”).  Citizenship, or the lack of it, is at the center of all that troubles the Rohingyas in the northern Rakhine State (“nRS”) of Myanmar. The discrimination and persecution they have endured over the decades in no small measure is due to the question of their origin. Where are they from? When did they arrive in Myanmar? How did they arrive in Arakan (Rakhine)? Are they indigenous or recent transplants?  How far back must their existence in Arakan be established before they can be viewed and accepted as citizens of Myanmar?

Theories abound.  So what? Continue reading “Book Review – The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide”

Book Review – EAST WEST STREET: On the Origins of GENOCIDE and CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, by Philippe Sands

EAST WEST STREET: On the Origins of GENOCIDE and CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. By Philippe Sands. 437 pages. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2016. £13.99.

Frank: Tell me Rosenberg, was all this destruction and misery necessary? What was the sense in all that racial politics?


Rosenberg: I was only looking for a practical solution.1Alfred Rosenberg (Hitler’s foremost theorist on racial politics) claiming that mass murder and war was an unintended consequence of his racial politics, to Hans Frank (Governor-General of the occupied Polish territories, where four extermination camps – Belzec, Treblinka, Majdanek, and Sobibor – were located and under his overarching authority), as told by Baldur von Schirach, Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter (Reich Governor) of Vienna, responsible for sending Jews from Vienna to German death camps. Philippe Sands, East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity 283 Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2016, citing Gustav Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary 42 (New York: Ferrar, Straus, 1947).

Philippe Sands, QC

In the autumn of 2010, Philippe Sands was invited to deliver a lecture in Lviv, Ukraine, a city that in the past has also been called Lemberg, Lvov, and Lwow, depending on who controlled the territory.  The lecture centered on Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin, two legal giants whose theories on crimes of (state) sponsored mass atrocities and individual criminal responsibility featured prominently during the Nuremberg trial, irrevocably changing the legal landscape in international criminal law. Lauterpacht is credited with conceptualizing and introducing crimes against humanity into the Nuremberg trial. Lemkin is the conceptualizer and author of the crime of genocide; a crime that also featured at Nuremberg, albeit less prominently, but that would go on to be codified as an international legal instrument by the United Nations General Assembly when it adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide on 9 December 1948.

But why Lviv?  Continue reading “Book Review – EAST WEST STREET: On the Origins of GENOCIDE and CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, by Philippe Sands”

Footnotes   [ + ]

Book Review — The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial, by Lawrence Douglas.

The desire to forget lengthens exile, and the mystery of salvation is called remembrance.

Inscription at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust

Lawrence Douglas’s The Right Wrong Man is an essential read for anyone involved in international criminal law.  It is an exceptionally well-written, well-researched, and well-reasoned treatment of the events, circumstances, challenges, and resolutions of bringing John Demjanjuk to account for being “the ultimate replaceable cog in an exterminatory machine…not because he committed wanton murder, but because he worked in a factory of death.  He was convicted of having been an accessory to murder for a simple and irresistible reason – because that had been his job.”1 Lawrence Douglas, The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial 16 (Princeton University Press 2016). Continue reading “Book Review — The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial, by Lawrence Douglas.”

Footnotes   [ + ]

Book Review – The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: Assessing their Contribution to International Criminal Law

meisenbergstegmillerfrontcoverBook Review

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: Assessing their Contribution to International Criminal Law, Simon M. Meisenberg and Ignaz Stegmiller (Eds.), T.M.C. Asser Press, 2016. Continue reading “Book Review – The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: Assessing their Contribution to International Criminal Law”