US genocide resolution welcome, but Rohingya need more

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US genocide resolution welcome, but Rohingya need more

US will not intercede, and Myanmar’s neighbors see it through economic lens, so international coalition for Rohingya needed 

By Maung Zarni  On 15.12.2018

LONDON :  The U.S. House of Representatives Thursday overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling the crimes committed by Myanmar security forces against Rohingya Muslims a genocide. This was the right thing to do.

The U.S. lawmakers deserve to be applauded for trying to turn “Never again!” into a concrete U.S. governmental policy, following the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s declaration that Myanmar is indeed committing a genocide and crimes against humanity.

The House resolution states that “every government and multilateral body (in the world) should call such atrocities (against Rohingya people) by their rightful names of ‘crimes against humanity,’ ‘war crimes,’ and ‘genocide’.”

It contains a call that will resonate very well with many in the rank-and-file of the Armed Forces of Myanmar unhappy with the Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing: it adds the commander-in-chief to the list of military commanders deemed responsible for these crimes.

Despite the much-reported decline of U.S. power globally, the United States still retains unparalleled influence and reach, militarily, institutionally, economically, and ideologically, vis-à-vis Russia and China. Against this background, the unequivocal stance that U.S. lawmakers have taken against the Myanmar genocide has enormous potential to really end the unimaginable misery which 1.5 million Rohingya experience, both in refugee camps in Bangladesh and in their own places of origin within the western Myanmar state of Rakhine.

However, the calls for the UN Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court or an ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal on Myanmar, or even economic sanctions alone, will have no appreciable impact on either the Myanmar military, which has institutionalized the intentional destruction of Rohingya as a target population since the 1970s, nor on the majority of the Myanmar public, who have been brainwashed to believe UN or external allegations of atrocities as “fake news” concocted by the liberal West and a Muslim conspiracy financed and coordinated by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

That is, unless the United States is prepared to take forward the idea of military intervention in Myanmar – like the U.S. Pacific Fleet launching surgical missile-strikes from the international waters of the Bay of Bengal on the military headquarters and residences of the senior military commanders in Naypyidaw. The uses of military actions on grounds of humanitarian intervention are not unprecedented. The NATO bombing of Slobodan Milosevic’s palace and the “accidental” strike on the Embassy of China in Belgrade spring to mind.

In fact, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad openly suggested “going in” to end the atrocities, in a public talk at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York a few months ago.

Unrealistic option

However, this may not be a realistic option for a number of reasons: U.S. President Donald Trump has demonstrated absolutely no concern about the news of Myanmar troops burning Rohingya infants and elderly people alive. In fact, Trump has not even once tweeted the word “Rohingya,” let alone drawn attention to the hellish conditions they are living in. Additionally, sandwiched between India and China, which are vying for influence in Myanmar through strategic, military, and economic collaboration, Myanmar may not be an ideal place for U.S. drone or missile strikes, lest such acts draw these two Asian rivals into the military action.

With respect to the impact of full and biting economic sanctions, in the unlikely event that the United States eventually imposes such severe sanctions, the four largest investors in Myanmar are China, Thailand, Singapore, and Hong Kong, followed by the U.K. The targeted pinch on the generals and the national economy will be significantly mitigated by these countries.

None of these governments are likely to follow the U.S.’ lead in the current circumstances. China considers Myanmar, a country in its backyard, an integral piece of its One Belt, One Road grand project whereby it is striving to recreate the New World Order with Beijing as its imperial center. Any talk of persuading China, or Russia, with deep military-to-military ties with Myanmar, to support any punitive measures within the existing global justice and governance mechanisms, including the UN Security Council, is nothing short of delusional.

The rest of Myanmar’s neighbors, including even India, base their Myanmar policies on commercial interests. India is no match for China, how desperately it may try, to curb China’s sway over the Myanmar military and civilian leaderships.

Desperate to find bilateral trade deals outside the EU amid Brexit, Britain is single-mindedly pursuing British commercial interests while serving as the “penholder” on Myanmar resolutions in multilateral bodies by virtue of the historical fact that it was the country’s former colonial master.

In a lengthy Dec. 12 interview with the local Mizzima News Group, British Ambassador Daniel Chugg pussyfooted around the genocide and stressed his ambassadorial goal. In Chugg’s own words, “we are the fifth-largest investor ever in Myanmar, our total stock of investment here is more than $4 billion, and our trade last year was about $500 million, which was up 20 per cent from the year before. So, it’s growing but it’s still relatively small in global terms and so I hope those figures will improve while I am here.”

No matter how powerful it may still remain, U.S. measures will come short of what is needed to end the genocide in Myanmar.

Steps to follow

Whether the Trump administration makes the legal determination – as the U.S. House Resolution urges – that Myanmar is in fact committing crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes not only against Rohingya but also against other ethnic and religious communities such as the Kachin, Shan, and Ta’ang, is less consequential than what it will concretely do if the determination is made.

The painful truth typically overlooked is that no genocide has ever been committed by the perpetrating state alone, from the Nazi genocide to Bosnia to Rwanda. There are always collaborating and “bystanding” states. The real first-step towards ending the genocide in Myanmar will have to be an international conference of states which have expressed their official concerns about the nature of grave crimes that Myanmar is committing.

There are 47 member states which voted on the UN Human Rights Council Resolution this fall calling for accountability for the Myanmar perpetrators of international state crimes. Although the U.S. is no longer a member of the council, considering the overwhelming concern about the genocide in Myanmar as evidenced in yesterday’s vote at the House of Representatives, the U.S. government is best placed to host such a conference in Washington.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which has done extraordinary work in genocide monitoring and research on the situation for Rohingya, would be an ideal civil society partner to facilitate such a conference.

One primary conference objective should be to forge a coalition of governments that are prepared to pool their resources, strategic influences, and even military assets to put sufficient pressure on both the Myanmar military and Aung San Suu Kyi’s impotent leadership. Without sufficient pressure, Myanmar — that is, the civilian government and the military — will not accept the Rohingya as full and equal citizens, nor will they provide any guarantee for the safety of the survivor communities.

As a matter of fact, the Myanmar genocide resolution rightly states that “Myanmar’s civilian government, led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, has not yet taken the necessary steps to address the violence directed against the Rohingya and has failed to create the necessary conditions for returns, including by actively impeding access to northern Rakhine for UNHCR, UNDP, humanitarian organizations, and journalists.” Having aligned the government with Beijing, Aung San Suu Kyi has shown absolutely no sign that she will relent.

Against this scenario, only such a counter-alliance of states broadly supported by civil society and human rights movements consisting of Rohingya survivors can put enough concrete pressure on the perpetrating regime and the genocidally racist society to allow Rohingya to live in peace on their own ancestral land of Northern Rakhine.

[Maung Zarni is co-author of the “The Slow-Burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya” (Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal, 2014) and coordinator of the Free Rohingya Coalition.]

* Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.

Source: https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-genocide-resolution-welcome-but-rohingya-need-more/1339732

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Entire Rohingya generation denied education

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12:00 AM, December 15, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:51 AM, December 15, 2018

Entire Rohingya generation denied education

Rights group says about Rohingya children living in Rakhine and Bangladesh refugee camps

Rohingya refugees at Balukhali refugee camp in Ukhia. Photo: AFP

Staff Correspondent

A whole generation of Rohingya children is being denied the opportunity to shape their own future as they face extremely limited access to education in both Myanmar and in refugee camps in Bangladesh, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (Brouk) said in a report on Thursday.

In Rakhine, Rohingyas have faced serious restrictions on their access to education since 2012, when Myanmar authorities imposed a system of segregation, while Bangladesh authorities also restrict formal education to the refugees, the rights body said.

“Schooling is vital to allowing people to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and to improve their lives. This human right, however, is denied to Rohingya children — this situation must not be allowed to continue,” said Brouk President Tun Khin in a statement.

The report titled “If You Want to Harm a Community, Just Don’t Let Them Study” said Rohingya children are often unable to attend mixed Rakhine-Rohingya schools but are instead kept in separate education facilities where the quality of teaching is extremely poor.

Besides, government teachers often refuse to work in Rohingya schools, or when they do subject students to humiliation and neglect. Thus, more than 73 percent of Rohingyas in Rakhine State self-identify as illiterate today, the report said.

Since 2017, the Myanmar authorities have been targeting teachers and other educated Rohingya — further aggravating the collective capacity for education. The Bangladeshi authorities also restrict formal education apparently because they do not want to create a “pull factor” for refugees to remain in the country longer term.

Instead, education in the camps is being provided by a range of international and Bangladeshi NGOs as well as community-based organisations. Rohingyas are often taught in informal “temporary learning centres” where the quality of education and curriculum can vary significantly depending on the NGO involved.

Brouk said classrooms in the camps are often severely overcrowded and badly resourced, and recruiting teachers — in particular women — remains a serious challenge. There is also a lack of long-term planning around education.

There’s a shortage of education opportunities for 15-18-year olds. Some 150,000 children in the camps are still without access to any learning centres altogether, the report mentioned.

Khin said Bangladesh generously opened its borders for the Rohingya and they urged Dhaka to lift “restrictions” in the refugee camps so that Rohingya children could get access to education unhindered.

“Conditions are nowhere safe enough for Rohingyas to return to Myanmar, and refugees are likely to remain in Bangladesh for the long-term. Only by being able to access to education and the job market can Rohingya build a future for themselves and contribute to Bangladeshi society.”

The rights body stresses, however, that the only long-term and viable solution to the crisis lies inside Myanmar that must immediately remove all restrictions on the human rights of Rohingyas, including on access to education and freedom of movement, and grant Rohingya citizenship under national law.

“At the heart of the Rohingyas’ lack of access to education are the Myanmar authorities’ genocidal policies. Only when this ends will our community be able to live fulfilled life in peace where we can enjoy our human rights.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the Rohingya face the real prospect of extinction in Myanmar — the international community must ensure that this does not happen.”

Khin also said, “The Rohingyas are suffering from an ongoing genocide, with Myanmar authorities’ intent on wiping us out as a people. Now more than ever, we need educated Rohingyas who can act as leaders for the community, but as long as education remains severely restricted this will be impossible. We are facing the prospect of a lost generation.”

Source: https://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/news/entire-generation-denied-education-1673896 

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Rohingyas continue to dominate headlines

Home >Editorial

Published:  12:29 AM, 15 December 2018

Rohingyas continue to dominate headlines

Shantanu Mukharji

Rohingya issue refuses to die and Rohingya migration to safer havens from Myanmar continues unabated in a set pattern to escape the military onslaught of the Myanmar state. It’s more than a year now when the Rohingyas started fleeing from Myanmar after abandoning their homes following massive crackdown on them.

While nearly 7 million Rohingyas are already sheltered in neighboring Bangladesh, many are still leaving for elsewhere. It all began on Aug 25, 2017 when the massive attack by military annihilating the Rohingyas forced them to flee. The trend continues.

A large section of the security analysts watching Rohingya challenge, reckon that most of the refugees are vulnerable for radicalization which might pose danger to peace in the region. Here, however, there is a considerable section of pacifists who contest the allegations of radicalization.

They too have a point. From the humanitarian point of view, their argument is that homeless and starved; Rohingyas are unlikely to accept indoctrination. This said, experts also hold a view that in the Rakhine state of Myanmar itself, there were serious attempts by Pakistan inspired terror outfit Lashkar e Toiba (LeT) to radicalize the impoverished Rohingyas fraught with perils caused by the Myanmar army to decimate.

Some reliable inputs indicated that Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) jumped into the muddied waters to exploit and in a suspected collaboration with LeT, started radicalizing the fleeing refugees. Military commander of ARSA, Hafiz Tohar came to notice in actively indoctrinating many Rohingyas or even giving them military training.

Bangladesh authorities had also apprehended that that such a large number of Rohingya refugees remain vulnerable to be exposed to be indoctrinated. In India too, there are considerable number of them amid protests by many that they are a great risk to the national security though many have gone back to Myanmar through the borders of the Indian north east.

Against the backdrop of what has been described above, a new development has recently surfaced amid most credible reports that Myanmar has very recently intercepted a boat carrying 93 Rohingya Muslims trying to escape from displacement camps in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state to reach Malaysia. Rohingyas’ taking refuge to Malaysia now and that too in considerable number.

This new pattern of flight to Malaysia assumes significance as Malaysia has a Prime Minister in Mahatir Mohamed who, hitherto, has been known to be a moderate Muslim and never came to light fostering Islamic fundamentalism. But fresh appraisal was made in his dramatic shift in approach when he shelters hate preacher and Islamic activist, Dr Zakir Naik, relocating him from Saudi Arabia, granting him permanent residency and spurning repeated Indian requests to extradite him to India.

It would be interesting to see that what stance Mahatir adopts to deal with the Rohingyas if at all they reach the Malaysian soil. It may be recalled that earlier in November 2016, around 106 Rohingyas attempted to reach Malaysia escaping from a commercial hub in Yangon.

It’s equally intriguing to see that why on one hand, Myanmar is encouraging Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh but on their attempts to flee to Malaysia, and on the other, authorities are trying to stop them from moving to Malaysia?

In an unrelated development, Myanmar military and specially its 33rd Light Infantry Division (LID), known for its brutality, have started targeting another ethnic group, the Kachins, in a recent military drive.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been internationally criticized for her open support to the military for carrying out its adventurist and repressive actions dividing Buddhist and Muslim communities and even recognition accorded to her by many international organizations are being divested from her like the Amnesty International.

She, however, continues to be relentless in her approach. Against this background, Rohingyas, either way, remain vulnerable for easy exploitation. From the military, as well as from the general Myanmarese population.

The writer is a security – analyst and freelance writer on topical issues. Views expressed are personal

Source: https://dailyasianage.com/news/154008/rohingyas-continue-to-dominate-headlines

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Will the world help the Rohingya to attain justice?

#Rohingya

 Will the world help the Rohingya to attain justice?

UN mechanism aiming to investigative atrocities committed by the Burmese military needs to be fully funded

Photo: A young Rohingya refugee spreads out firewood to dry on the roof of a shack in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district on 18 November (AFP)

Nurul Islam

Kyaw Win

Friday 14 December 2018 10:07 UTC
 Just over a year ago, many of our Rohingya brothers and sisters endured what the UN now says constituted genocide. 

Tens of thousands were slaughtered by the brutal Burmese military, which stripped them of their citizenship decades earlier, and hundreds of thousands fled for neighbouring Bangladesh, where most now remain in makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Yet, there has been no accountability for these horrific crimes, which continue to be committed against other ethnic minorities throughout the country.

Massive step forward

The brutal Burmese regime – including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi – insist that their own commission of inquiry will do the job. But we all know that perpetrators can never be trusted to deliver justice for their victims, especially for crimes of this scale.

This week, the situation may finally change. In September, the UN’s Human Rights Council agreed to establish a new independent mechanism to investigate these crimes and to prepare cases for prosecution. This was a massive step forward, and the most concrete signal this year that the international community will no longer stand idly by in the face of genocide.

It was also a sign that the international community understands that justice is an important precondition for any returns to Myanmar – but as recent events have shown, we are a long way off from being able to do this in a safe, dignified and voluntary way for those involved, with guarantees that their citizenship will be restored.

The new mechanism must be fully funded to work. The UN has said that it needs around $27m to satisfy its mandate. Unfortunately, some countries are trying to use this week’s annual UN budget negotiations in New York as an opportunity to cut down that funding, and in the process gut the mechanism before it even gets started. This cannot be allowed to happen.

Full force of international law

As important as the new mechanism will be, it is only part of the process for delivering justice for these crimes. The best route is for the UN Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court, ensuring that the full force of international law can be brought to bear.

This is the worst fear of the Tatmadaw military commanders who ordered and conducted the killings, and the one thing that may actually get them to stop.

Rohingya refugees collect drinking water in the Unchiprang refugee camp, near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh on 24 August (AFP)

While some members of the Security Council, such as Sweden and the Netherlands, have called for a referral to the International Criminal Court – and others, such as the UK, would likely be supportive – the politics of the five permanent, veto-wielding members remain divided, as ever.

Whether a country such as China would be prepared to stand with a genocidal regime and veto any such resolution remains to be seen – especially given the ire this would bring from the Islamic world.

The UN Security Council was established to protect international peace and security. While we must continue to push for it to do its job, we must also not let this critical diplomatic moment disappear.

The international community must consider additional options, such as establishing a special tribunal as we saw in Yugoslavia or Rwanda, and which the General Assembly may be able to mandate in its own right. This would be the natural next link in the investigative chain.

World should be watching

Sanctions must also be ramped up, especially on the military’s economic interests, and it was pleasing to see the European Union this week foreshadow additional steps in this regard.

READ MORE ►Rohingya Muslims need the world to prevent another slaughter

By the end of this year, we will know whether the Rohingya people will be able to start to see the justice that they were promised, and that they so rightly deserve. But in order for this to be the case, the UN General Assembly must fully fund the new investigative mechanism.

The eyes of the world should be watching the halls of the General Assembly this week.

– Nurul Islam is the chairman of the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO), a political network that campaigns for the rights of the Rohingya. A native of Rakhine State, Islam served as the president of the Rangoon University Rohingya Student Association in 1971. 

– Kyaw Win is the executive director of the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN), which works with individuals on the ground to document human rights violations, breaches of religious freedom, and the spread of hate speech and anti-Muslim violence across the country

The views expressed in this article belong to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Topics: Rohingya

Tags:  RohingyaMyanmarbangladeshRefugeesConflictinternational lawUNhuman rights

Source: https://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/what-can-world-do-stop-slaughter-rohingya-muslims-63245100

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Marise Payne urged to ‘step up’ at Aung San Suu Kyi meeting in Myanmar

 Asia-Pacific 

 Marise Payne urged to ‘step up’ at Aung San Suu Kyi meeting in Myanmar

Amnesty International Australia has called on Australia’s foreign affairs minister to act on the Rohingya crisis, as she visits Myanmar this week.

By Nick Baker  – December 12, 2018  Updated 11 hours ago 

As Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne begins her two-day visit to Myanmar, Amnesty International Australia has urged her to “step up and show leadership” at a meeting with controversial leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ms Payne is in the Southeast Asian nation on Wednesday and Thursday and will meet with senior government ministers, including the embattled State Counsellor.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Ms Payne said Australia “is committed to working with Myanmar and regional and other partners towards a long-term and durable solution to the crisis in Rakhine State”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, left, and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. AAP

Since 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine State over the border into Bangladesh, following horrific reports of widespread murder, rape and arson at the hands of the Myanmar military.

READ MORE : Explainer: Who are the Rohingya Muslims?  

Rohingya Mother and her child in Bangladesh Refugee camp

Diana Sayed, crisis response campaigner at Amnesty International Australia, told SBS News Ms Payne must “raise the atrocities” with Ms SuuKyi “and apply political pressure to act”.

“Australia is one of the largest aid donors to Myanmar – so our government’s opinion matters,” she said.

“Ms Payne must call for an immediate end to the ongoing violence against the Rohingya people and justice and accountability for the crimes committed to date. This includes referring the military leaders accountable for these crimes, who the UN say have genocidal intent, to the International Criminal Court.

“It is time for the Australian Government to step up and show leadership on this human rights crisis.”

 

Ms Sayed said Ms Suu Kyi, a Nobel Prize winner who had been lionised for her commitment to human rights, had “betrayed the values she once stood for”.

“Rather than use her political and moral authority to safeguard human rights, justice and equality she has failed to protect the Rohingya population in Rakhine State and speak out against the military atrocities against them,” she said.

Rohingya refugees walk from Myanmar to Bangladesh in 2017. Getty

READ MORE : One year since exodus, what future for the Rohingya?

On 25 August 2017, a group of Rohingya militants carried out deadly attacks against a small number of Myanmar forces in Rakhine state. The Myanmar military responded with a widespread crackdown against nearly all the Rohingya population in the area.

Human Rights Watch claims the atrocities committed by the Myanmar military during the operation “include mass killings, sexual violence, and widespread arson, amount[ing] to crimes against humanity”.

More than 700,000 Rohingya fled into Bangladesh and now live in refugee camps. Most are crowded into makeshift bamboo houses with only plastic sheets to protect them from the elements.

Rohingya Refugees entering Bangladesh.

Visiting Rakhine State

In the Tuesday statement, Ms Payne said “Australia has previously raised our serious concerns in relation to the situation in Rakhine State”.

“I will discuss Australia’s contribution to supporting the basic needs of the 129,000 internally displaced Rohingya,” she added, referring to Rohingya who languish in displacement camps within Myanmar.

The Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. Getty.

The camps are located in and around Rakhine’s capital Sittwe, which is on Ms Payne’s travel schedule. According to material from Amnesty International Australia, movement, access to healthcare, work and education is severely restricted for those living in the camps.

“The crisis is far from over. We know that Rohingya people continue to flee and violations continue inside Rakhine State. As villages continue to burn and men, women and children flee for their lives into bordering Bangladesh Aung San Suu Kyi has a moral, ethical and political responsibility to act now,” Ms Sayed said. Additional reporting: AFP

Topics: Asia-Pacific, World

Source: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/marise-payne-urged-to-step-up-at-aung-san-suu-kyi-meeting-in-myanmar

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We never forget the brutal violation of Burma military and Rakhine Mogs.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/mayu.rashid.5/videos/259473924811983/

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Rohingya repatriation: stop everything until big changes are made

Jewish World Watch > Conflict Areas > Rohingya > 

Rohingya repatriation: stop everything until big changes are made

December 10, 2018

Ann Strimov Durbin

Ann Strimov Durbin is a human rights attorney and the Director of Advocacy and Grantmaking at Jewish World Watch.

After Bangladesh and Myanmar officials met in Dhaka in late October, they announced that they had developed a concrete plan to begin repatriation in mid-November, with the first round to include 2,260 Rohingya from 485 families.  Starting on November 15, 150 refugee would be received each week at the Nga Khu Ya reception center before being transferred to the Hla Poe Kaung transit camps. Bangladesh — likely anxious to begin repatriations in advance of upcoming national elections scheduled for late December — culled the names of returnees at random, without consulting the refugees to confirm their willingness to return or to have their names shared with Myanmar.

Luckily, this move sparked international condemnation from the U.N., human rights groups and governments alike.  As UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic put it, “Because we consider that conditions in Rakhine state are not yet conducive for voluntary return in the conditions of safety,dignity and sustainability, UNHCR will not, at this stage, facilitate any refugee returns to Rakhine state.”  Ultimately, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to postpone return and repatriation until 2019. But that doesn’t mean the Rohingya are out of danger.

The Myanmar government has done nothing to create conditions for safe and dignified returns or to address the structural, underlying causes of the genocide, including systematic persecution and violence, statelessness, hate speech and military impunity for grave violations.  The Tatmadaw has essentially erased all evidence of the massacres of August 2017, bulldozing the remains of villages, leaving nothing but charred earth in its wake. Moreover, recent Rohingya arriving in Bangladesh have indicated that the genocide is still continuing within North Rakhine,where Rohingya still face killings, burnings, enforced disappearances, severe restrictions on movement, food deprivation and torture.  “Returning them in this context is tantamount to condemning them to life as sub-humans and further mass killings,” chair of the U.N. fact-finding mission, Marzuki Darusman, told the U.N. Security Council.

Although Rohingya want to return to their homeland — if guaranteed security, citizenship rights, access to land and livelihoods and freedom of movement — they are absolutely petrified at the prospect of being forcibly returned to the locus of their attempted extermination.  Under the customary international law principle of non-refoulement,it is illegal to forcibly return refugees to a place where they would face persecution, torture, ill-treatment or death. With no evidence to suggest any regret, mindset shift or rights-promoting changes on behalf of the Tatmadaw or even the general public of Myanmar, return would guarantee the Rohingya people’s exposure to all of the above violations.

One Rohingya refugee whose name appeared on the list of the first 2,260 slated to return, told ABC News, “If we are forced to go we will commit suicide by drinking poison.  We have already collected poison. Otherwise the government of Bangladesh has to shoot us dead.” Many in Cox’s Bazar have expressed these sentiments, with several suicide attempts already documented.  An advocacy partner of mine sent a photo of an elderly man who allegedly took poison to avoid return. I know his name. I know his block number in Seprank Camp. I can never unsee that image.

“If we are forced to go we will commit suicide by drinking poison.”

The United States cannot allow for survivors of genocide to be cast back into the terror from which they barely survived.  We must take a leadership role in ensuring that these survivors of genocide are protected and that the structural causes which culminated in massacres, systematic rape, burning of villages and mass deportation are properly addressed.  Unless the citizenship rights and freedoms of the Rohingya are restored, return is, quite simply, out of the question. Their discrimination and persecution has been going on for so long, and the brainwashing of the general public by the Tatmadaw and religious nationalists has been so omnipresent and pervasive, that the Rohingya would face devastating realities without a complete upheaval of the status quo.

The first step is for the U.S. to acknowledge that another genocide has rocked this world.  While dithering over how to qualify a catastrophic situation might seem trivial, it is essential in a situation like this, when nearly 1 million people face being forcibly returned to the architects of their demise.  The Rohingya were singled out because of who they are and what they believe.

Support the Rohingya now

Genocidal intent doesn’t just raise the bar when it comes to response.  It represents an underlying, seething hatred that does not simply go away once a repatriation agreement is signed.  Were the Rohingya to return right now, they would face egregious human rights violations and once again be ghettoized, cordoned off in concentration-like camps until the next crackdown.  The only way to prevent future cycles of violence against the Rohingya is to acknowledge that along-burning, ongoing genocide is underway…and to act accordingly to stop it.Please contact your Representative immediately and ask them to vote YES on H.R. Res. 1091. Help send a powerful message to our government to step up its response to this ongoing genocide by drawing upon the full panoply of its diplomatic tools. It is imperative that the United States push Myanmar to not only guarantee safe and voluntary returns, but also to hold perpetrators accountable, and begin the difficult process of reversing the dangerous laws and policies that have allowed for religious nationalism to take on such a terrifying form.

TAGS: Bangladesh, Burma, Muslim, Myanmar, Rakhine State, Refugees Repatriation,  Rohingya, UNHCR

Source: https://www.jww.org/conflict-areas/rohingya/rohingya-repatriation-hold-everything/

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