25 August 2022: Five years ago, the Myanmar military launched genocidal security operations against Rohingya in Rakhine State in a horrific culmination of decades of state-based persecution of Rohingya inside Myanmar. Today, the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M) remembers the Rohingya victims and survivors of the genocide perpetrated by the Myanmar military and all of those struggling for justice, human rights, and the right to live dignified lives free from military oppression.
On 25 August, 2017, the launch of security operations by the Myanmar military against Rohingya in northern Rakhine State heralded the beginning of a widespread and systemic campaign of rape, arson, torture, murder and forced displacement that would claim the lives of thousands of boys, girls, men and women and drive 750,000 people across the border into Bangladesh. Those that fled joined a quarter of a million Rohingya already seeking refuge inside Bangladesh. Today, nearly one million people live in squalid conditions inside the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.
“The stories and accounts we have heard from the Rohingya survivors of Myanmar military atrocities have had a profound effect on us all. They will never leave us,” said Yanghee Lee of SAC-M. “Today we remember the Rohingya survivors and victims of these grave crimes and are reminded once more of our moral duty to the Rohingya people and to humanity that the perpetrators of such atrocities are held to account wherever they occur.”
Life is a daily struggle for the some 900,000 people confined to refugee camps in Bangladesh. Hemmed in on all sides by barbed wire, there is no escape from the frequent fires, floods and landslides caused by the torrential monsoon rains or criminal gangs that threaten and murder camp inhabitants with impunity. Last September, much-loved Rohingya community leader and activist Mohib Ullah was assassinated after threats were made against his life.
The situation is similarly dire for the 600,000 Rohingya that remain inside Myanmar where the military has been committing widespread daily atrocities against the entire population of the country since attempting a military coup in February 2021. Rohingya in Rakhine State face increased restrictions on movement and threats of violence and persecution from security forces. As such, the safe, voluntary, dignified and durable return of Rohingya in Bangladesh to Myanmar is currently impossible.
“The strength, spirit and determination of the Rohingya and their fight for justice in the face of such horrific circumstances is a source of great inspiration for us and oppressed peoples around the world,” said Marzuki Darusman of SAC-M. “The entire country of Myanmar is now engaged in a struggle against their military oppressors as they fight for a new Myanmar built on human rights, justice, and democracy. The Rohingya are an integral part of this future. Securing justice for the Rohingya is essential to seeing these dreams of a new Myanmar become reality.”
Today, as SAC-M remembers the Rohingya victims and survivors of genocide, we call on the international community to spare no effort in assisting and strengthening ongoing accountability measures and to explore every avenue in pursuit of justice for the Rohingya and accountability for the Myanmar military’s genocidal atrocities.
“Myanmar military impunity is the root cause of the Rohingya genocide,” said Chris Sidoti of SAC-M. “Only when Myanmar military leadership are held to account for their grave crimes can the horrific, decades-long cycle of military violence that has brought untold suffering to the Rohingya people finally be brought to a close.”