The Rohingya people in Myanmar are trapped in a vicious system of state-sponsored, institutionalised discrimination that amounts to apartheid, said Amnesty International today as it publishes a major new analysis into the root causes of the current crisis in Rakhine State.
“Caged without a roof” puts into context the recent wave of violence in Myanmar, when the security forces killed Rohingya people, torched whole villages to the ground, and drove more than 600,000 to flee across the border into Bangladesh.
By Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International
STANDING by Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar, we watched the refugees slowly cross the thick, lime-green paddy fields. They wore signs of exhaustion. Their faces were drawn and their bare feet badly bruised. They gratefully accepted the rations being offered by aid workers: a bottle of water to quench their thirst, a high-energy biscuit to restore their strength, and an offer of rest in the shade after days, sometimes weeks-long, arduous journeys.
A European aid worker suddenly turned to me and asked, “Do you think there’s any Western country that would take in this many people?” It was a question that did not anticipate an answer. At a time when refugees face what Pope Francis has hauntingly termed “the globalisation of indifference”, Bangladesh stands out for opening its doors.
In response to findings released today after the Myanmar military’s internal investigation into violence in northern Rakhine State since 25 August, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:
“Once again, Myanmar’s military is trying to sweep serious violations against the Rohingya under the carpet.
More countries need to step up and pledge their support for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh amid an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, Amnesty International said today.
The meeting of high-level representatives of donor countries at the UN’s office in Geneva on Monday must include pledges of new money, including from countries in the region, to support rising numbers of Rohingya refugees who have sought shelter in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district.
The recent influx estimated to be nearly 600,000 people has brought the total Rohingya refugee community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district to more than 800,000.
“This is an unprecedented crisis that needs an immediate and sustained response from the international community. This means that more countries, particularly those from the region, need to play a much bigger role and share the burden of responsibility. Bangladesh, a poor country which has shown extraordinary generosity, cannot be left to deal with this situation alone,” said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.
More than 530,000 Rohingya men, women and children have fled northern Rakhine State in terror in a matter of weeks amid the Myanmar security forces’ targeted campaign of widespread and systematic murder, rape and burning, Amnesty International said today in its most detailed analysis yet of the ongoing crisis.
‘My World Is Finished’: Rohingya Targeted in Crimes against Humanity in Myanmar describes how Myanmar’s security forces are carrying out a systematic, organized and ruthless campaign of violence against the Rohingya population as a whole in northern Rakhine State, after a Rohingya armed group attacked around 30 security posts on 25 August.
Media contact: Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations at (613) 744-7667 ext 236 or email@example.com
Southeast Asian leaders must take urgent steps to address grave human rights violations against the Rohingya in Myanmar, Amnesty International said in a letter sent to the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) today.
The letter, signed by directors of 13 Amnesty International offices across the Asia-Pacific region, called for an emergency ASEAN summit to deal with the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state.
“ASEAN is failing to take a stand as one of its member states carries out a violent campaign of ethnic cleansing,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
“Governments in the region must uphold the commitments to human rights enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, commitments which Myanmar’s military is showing clear contempt for as they perpetrate crimes against humanity against the Rohingya.”
Since a Rohingya armed group attacked dozens of security force posts on 25 August 2017, Myanmar has engaged in an unlawful and brutal campaign of violence against the Rohingya.
By Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International.
In her five young years, Buthaina has witnessed the type of violence and brutality that powerful people and governments often want to keep hidden.
Pulled from the rubble of her family home in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, viral images show her sitting up in a hospital bed, clutching a teddy bear. Badly bruised, she struggles to pry open a swollen eye with her fingers, to look out on a world that has dealt her such cruelty. “She had five siblings to play with. Now she has none,”her uncle Ali al-Raymi told Amnesty International.
The international community must help ensure that no Rohingya refugees are forced back to Myanmar as long as they remain at risk of serious human rights violations following the army’s vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing, Amnesty International said today.
The governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar this week announced that they have established a working group to discuss the repatriation of Rohingya refugees. More than 500,000 Rohingya women, men and children fled a military operation in Rakhine State in little more than a month.
“While it is positive that Myanmar and Bangladesh are discussing options for the safe return of Rohingya to their homes, this must be a voluntary process and not lead to a hasty and reckless effort to push people back against their will. No one should be forced back to a situation where they will continue to face serious human rights violations and systemic discrimination and segregation,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues.
http://www.amnesty.ca/sites/amnesty/files/Canada Demand Myanmar stop the violence.pdfJoin Amnesty International in taking action for Rohingya refugees forced to flee their homes in Myanmar.
By Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues.
*This article was originally published in The Diplomat.
For the past month, the world has watched in horror as Myanmar’s army has carried out a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against members of the Rohingya minority in the west of the country. Almost 500,000 women, men and children have already crossed the border into Bangladesh, leaving behind dead family members, burned villages and a shattered homeland.
While the international community has rightly focused on the horrors precipitating the mass exodus of Rohingya from Myanmar, Myanmar’s neighbors remain woefully unprepared to handle the spillover effects of the crisis.
UPDATE 28 September 2017: Scroll down for an open letter to the UN from 87 civil society organizations urging immediate action on the crisis in Myanmar.
The UN Security Council must do everything it can to end the crimes against humanity and ongoing ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya civilian population in Myanmar, including by imposing a comprehensive arms embargo on the country, Amnesty International said.
The Council is holding a public session on the situation in Myanmar on Thursday, when Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will brief members on the current crisis in Rakhine state.
“The Myanmar military is forcibly displacing and killing Rohingya, a campaign of crimes against humanity that amounts to ethnic cleansing. When they meet on Thursday, UN member states must ask themselves what side of history they want to be on and do everything they can do end this nightmare. Together, they do have the power to pressure Myanmar to end the violence,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director.
Myanmar: Video and satellite evidence show new fires still torching Rohingya villages
Amnesty International has assessed three new videos taken inside Rakhine State as recently as Friday afternoon showing large plumes of smoke rising from Rohingya villages, one of which was already deserted, as well as satellite imagery with smoke visible over burnt-out structures.
Local sources in northern Rakhine State claim the fires were started by members of the Myanmar security forces and local vigilante mobs.
Since the coordinated attacks on dozens of security posts on 25 August, the Myanmar security forces have carried out an unlawful and disproportionate campaign of violence and ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya community. Amnesty International has documented killings, indiscriminate firing of weapons in civilian areas, widespread burning of homes and villages, and the planting of landmines on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. Over 400,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since 25 August 2016.
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