Washington, D.C. – Refugees International today released a policy brief on ongoing abuses and oppression against the Rohingya people in western Myanmar. The policy brief is a response to continuing violence against Rohingya and the Myanmar government’s refusal to end the targeted abuse and human rights violations.
“We are deeply concerned that none of Myanmar’s political reforms have benefitted the Rohingya,” said Refugees International President Eric Schwartz. “Rather, the Government of Myanmar has engaged in, supported, or condoned widespread, egregious, and systematic abuses of human rights that likely constitute crimes against humanity. And while the government has recently expressed an intention to address the well-being of Rohingya in Rakhine State, talk is cheap, and governments and international organizations must not confuse talk with action.”
Refugees International will submit this report to the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, chaired by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and established as a collaboration between the Government of Myanmar and the Kofi Annan Foundation. The Commission, composed of six local and three international experts and charged with proposing measures to improve conditions in Rakhine State, is expected to issue its final report shortly.
“Do we really want to look back at this horrible situation 20 years from now and berate ourselves for not doing more at the time the abuses took place?” Schwartz added. “We are witnessing crimes of enormous proportions that must be addressed and ended immediately.”
In May 2017, during a mission to a number of refugee camps in Bangladesh, RI Senior Advocate for Human Rights Daniel Sullivan interviewed dozens of newly arrived Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar in either late 2016 or early 2017. They described an array of abuses at the hands of the security forces which caused them to flee. In particular, RI received consistent reports from the refugees of torture and other abuses, including rape, the burning of homes, killings, and disappearances. RI will release the full field report on the Bangladesh mission on July 13, 2017.
Refugees International offered a number of recommendations to address the plight of the Rohingya within Myanmar and those living as refugees outside the country. Those recommendations include:
* The Government of Myanmar should allow full and unfettered access to Rakhine State so international humanitarian and human rights organizations, members of the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission, and members of the local and international media can monitor conditions and assess reported abuses.
* Myanmar should amend the 1982 citizenship law to provide Rohingya people with a path toward full citizenship.
* The Myanmar government should fully implement the interim findings of the Kofi Annan Commission.
* For its part, the United States should press Myanmar on the importance of a path to citizenship and legal status for the Rohingya. This effort should take place in all high level engagements with State Counsellor Suu Kyi and other senior leaders.