Struggling to survive

November 21st, 2023  •  Author:   Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK  •  3 minute read
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Executive summary

Six years after the genocidal attacks by the Myanmar military, Rohingya survivors in Rakhine State and the refugee camps in Bangladesh remain extremely vulnerable. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are threatened by spiralling violence in the camps, drastic cuts in food rations, and a coercive repatriation effort. Rohingya in Rakhine State are threatened by humanitarian aid blockades following the devastation of Cyclone Mocha and a rapidly intensifying armed conflict, in which they are treated as expendable pawns by all sides.

Six months after Cyclone Mocha killed hundreds of Rohingya in Rakhine State, those who are confined to internment camps have been subjected to increasingly unsanitary, degrading conditions, without enough food, water, or shelter. Discriminatory policies and humanitarian aid restrictions prevent them from accessing timely medical care and have led to further preventable deaths. Reports of suicide among Rohingya men, women and children in the camps since Cyclone Mocha attest to the depths of desperation, sense of abandonment, and hopelessness they are experiencing.

Moreover, Rohingya communities now find themselves trapped in the middle of rapidly intensifying armed conflict after the year-long ceasefire in Rakhine State broke down on 13 November. BROUK is gravely concerned for their safety and well-being. Indiscriminate shelling by the Myanmar Army in Myebon township has already killed and injured Rohingya civilians. The regime’s blockade of all major roads and waterways within Rakhine State and the main route between Sittwe-Yangon will have a further punishing effect on Rohingya communities, who are largely dependent on humanitarian aid.

The evidence documented by BROUK and presented in this latest briefer (together with seven previous briefings) demonstrates that the Myanmar military’s conduct continues to cause irreparable harm to the Rohingya. The evidence points to the ongoing commission of the genocidal act of deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the Rohingya in whole or in part.

On 15 November 2023, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom filed a joint declaration of intervention in the case brought by The Gambia against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice. The countries’ joint statement announcing the filing highlighted that, ‘the Genocide Convention requires States Parties to prevent the crime of genocide and hold those responsible to account’. The Maldives filed its declaration of intervention on 16 November. BROUK welcomes the interventions and urges the Court to deal with procedural matters as swiftly as possible, to avoid delays in the administration of justice for the Rohingya community.

Myanmar has indicated that it intends to press ahead with a pilot repatriation project to return Rohingya refugees from the camps in Bangladesh to northern Rakhine State by the end of the year. ‘Model villages’ for the returnees have been constructed in areas where atrocity crimes are known to have taken place, in breach of provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice instructing Myanmar to ‘prevent the destruction of and ensure the preservation of evidence’ related to alleged genocidal acts.

In the meantime, the international community must find concrete ways to leverage the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice, to ensure they fulfil their purpose of protecting the Rohingya. This includes securing public hearings at the UN Security Council on the junta’s continued breaches of the order to ensure that there are consequences for non-compliance. Any future UN Security Council resolution must recognise that enduring peace and security in Myanmar and justice for the Rohingya are intertwined, and either refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or establish an ad hoc international tribunal for Myanmar.

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