Accountability, Justice and Protection: Basis for Safe and Dignified Return of Rohingya

While the Myanmar[1] government has publicly agreed to bring home hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled a brutal military crackdown, there has been no proof of action taken by the government to show that Rohingya refugees are safe to return. The government is still refusing to recognize Rohingya as citizens, there is no evidence of construction for Rohingya to return home, more villages are being burned and destroyed, military buildings are being constructed and expanded in Rohingya’s former villages and Rohingya’s homes are being occupied by new Buddhist residents.

According to the analysis of satellite map over Rakhine State, researchers from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) found no evidence of preparation by the Myanmar government for a safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees. Instead they found ongoing destruction of additional settlements and the construction of military facilities on the sites of former Rohingya settlements. It thus appears highly unlikely that refugees will be able to return to their original homes and land.

On Sunday, 28 July a high-level delegation from Myanmar visited Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh to convince the refugees to return to Rakhine State and handed out flyers with illustrations on how to apply for National Verification Cards (NVC). However, a report released earlier by the Burma Human Rights Network stated “The NVC has been in use for years as a tool to identify Rohingya as foreigners and they have not received any greater rights as a result.” In addition, according to Radio Free Asia, Myanmar’s permanent foreign secretary, Myint Thu said during his visit to meet with Rohingya refugees that full citizenship for the stateless minority was not an option, frustrating Rohingya representatives.

The steps taken by the government to convince the Rohingya refugees to return home, with the lack of preparation on the ground and the ongoing refusal to recognize Rohingya’s identity and citizenship, clearly demonstrate that they are not genuine and such steps are a short term response to international pressure. Most concerning is the lack of political will by the government to bring the perpetrators of genocide to justice.

Without any guarantees of justice and protection from the government and the international community it will never be safe for Rohingyas to return to Myanmar. Rohingyas are very clear about their demands as Dil Mohammed, one of the Rohingya leaders who joined the talks with Myanmar delegation stated “We told them we won’t return unless we are recognized as Rohingya in Myanmar,” and he continued, “We want citizenship, we want all our rights. We don’t trust them. We will return only if international protection is in place.”

Those voices by Rohingya should be listened to seriously and included in every discussion of any return plan. It is important for the international community to understand that all Rohingya should have full citizenship restored to them to ensure the same rights as any other civilians in Myanmar and that the NVC process is neither a solution to refugee return, nor a pathway to citizenship. Accountability and protection are essential preconditions for any return of these victims and survivors of genocide. The Myanmar authorities must be pressured to consult with Rohingya community and develop a comprehensive and concrete action plan that is needed for a safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingya. Furthermore, the international community and all actors and agencies involved must seek to ensure criminal accountability such as the referral by the UN Security Council (UNSC) to the International Criminal Court to hold the perpetrators to account while guarantees of strong protection measures by the Myanmar authorities must be in place.


Resources from the past week

actions

Statements and Press Releases

Selection Process of New Commissioners for the MNHRC Must be Transparent and Inclusive

By 24 Civil Society Organizations

ေကာ္မရွင္အဖြဲ႔ဝင္သစ္မ်ား ေရြးခ်ယ္ေရးလုပ္ငန္းစဥ္ ပြင့္လင္းျမင္သာမႈႏွင့္ အားလံုးပါ၀င္မႈရွိရန္လုိအပ္

By 24 Civil Society Organizations

Lift Internet-Blackout in Rakhine and Chin States: Ensure Access for Aid Groups and Monitors

By Fortify Rights

ယံုၾကည္မႈတည္ေဆာက္ျခင္းကို ထိပါးလာျခင္း – တပ္မေတာ္မွ အပစ္အခတ္ရပ္စဲေရး ေၾကျငာထားသည့္ ေဒသမ်ားရွိ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးအေျခအေန (၂၀၁၉ ခုႏွစ္ ဇန္နဝါရီလမွ ဧၿပီလအထိ)

By Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma

Undermining Trust Building: Human Rights Situation During the Northern Ceasefire

By Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma

Burmese Filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi to Face Trial on Charges Stemming from Facebook Posts Critical of the Military

By PEN America

ရွမ္းျပည္အေရွ႕ပိုင္း၊ မိုင္းပ်ဥ္းၿမိဳ႕နယ္တြင္ ဆန္ဝယ္ၿပီးျပန္လာသည့္ ေဒသခံရြာသားတဦးကို အစိုးရစစ္တပ္၊ တပ္သားမ်ားက ရိုက္ႏွက္စစ္ေဆးျခင္း

By Shan Human Rights Foundation

Lahu Villager Beaten by Burma Army Troops For Buying Rice in Mong Paeng, Eastern Shan State

By Shan Human Rights Foundation

The Enactment of the New Child Rights Law by the Government of Myanmar a Landmark Step – UNICEF

By UNICEF Myanmar

reports

Reports

Mapping Conditions in Rakhine State

By Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Undermining Trust Building: Human Rights Situation During the Northern Ceasefire

By Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma

ယံုၾကည္မႈတည္ေဆာက္ျခင္းကို ထိပါးလာျခင္း – တပ္မေတာ္မွ အပစ္အခတ္ရပ္စဲေရး ေၾကျငာထားသည့္ ေဒသမ်ားရွိ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးအေျခအေန (၂၀၁၉ ခုႏွစ္ ဇန္နဝါရီလမွ ဧၿပီလအထိ)

By Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma


Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”

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