[Joint Statement] Myanmar: Five years since genocide, the world must act to ensure justice for Rohingya

    rohingya myanmar

    In marking the five-year commemoration of the genocide committed against the Rohingya in 2017, 384 civil society organizations reaffirm our commitment to continue to stand in solidarity with and seek justice for the Rohingya, to ensure the full restoration of their rights in Myanmar, and to end the impunity of the Myanmar military. The plight of the Rohingya must not be forgotten.

    On this day five years ago, the Myanmar military launched a terror campaign in Rakhine State against the Rohingya and massacred, tortured, raped, and burned villages. They forced three quarters of a million people to flee to Bangladesh where they remain today alongside a quarter of a million Rohingya who fled earlier persecutions in Myanmar. Around one million Rohingya are struggling to survive in crowded refugee camps in Bangladesh, waiting to return to their home and their country in dignity with their full rights restored.

    The return of Rohingya to Myanmar is substantially predicated on ending the impunity of the Myanmar military and accountability for the grave atrocity crimes the military has committed, including by prosecuting individuals who are most responsible. Yet, progress towards justice and accountability has remained minimal, made even more elusive by the military’s attempted coup on February 1, 2021.

    As the military commits war crimes and crimes against humanity throughout the country, perpetrating similar crimes committed against the Rohingya in 2017 during its ‘clearance operations’, on 10 August 2022, the junta’s spokesperson for Rakhine State, U Hla Thein, told Radio Free Asia the junta is making plans to repatriate Rohingya refugees to Rakhine State – at the rate of 150 people per day starting in September 2022. This is a part of its ongoing desperate attempt to gain legitimacy from the international community. As recently expressed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights during her visit to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, “conditions are not right for returns” and “Repatriation must always be conducted in a voluntary and dignified manner, only when safe and sustainable conditions exist in Myanmar.”

    Rohingya in Myanmar continue to live under genocidal policies in apartheid-like conditions, systematically denied citizenship, with severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms including freedom of movement, access to health, education and other essential services. They are arbitrarily arrested, detained and treated as criminals for traveling outside of confined areas and further dehumanized for attempting to flee appalling conditions within Rakhine State. The over 130,000 Rohingya that remain in open air prison camps in Rakhine State face new restrictions on movement and aid blockages since the attempted coup. In effect, the genocidal acts of deliberately inflicting conditions of life that are calculated to bring about the Rohingya’s physical destruction, in whole or in part, are continuing to be perpetrated by the military junta, leading to their “slow death”.

    Emboldened by the lack of international, concerted action to hold the military accountable, the world is bearing witness to the military’s atrocity crimes, amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, that are now being perpetrated against the wider population in Myanmar as people bravely resist the junta’s ongoing violent attempt to seize power which has failed after 18 months. These crimes are all too familiar to the ethnic communities who have endured decades of atrocities by the Myanmar military.

    Five years on, words have not turned into robust action as more statements of “grave concern” pile on to the condemnation of military’s atrocity crimes. Actions must speak louder.

    We welcome the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the preliminary objections lodged by the military junta in the case of Rohingya genocide brought forward by The Gambia, which has paved the way for the court to adjudicate the merits of The Gambia’s case. With this ruling, governments must send a strong message to the Myanmar military that they will be held accountable for their crimes by supporting The Gambia’s case – including lending legal, financial and technical support. In addition, the UN Security Council, and the UK as the “penholder” on Myanmar, must convene a meeting on the progress of the implementation of the provisional measures.

    Efforts to hold the Myanmar military criminally accountable must be expedited. This includes supporting universal jurisdiction cases to prosecute the military, in particular the universal jurisdiction case in Argentina. It is vital that the international community continue to explore other avenues for full justice and accountability, including a UN Security Council referral of the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or to set up an ad-hoc tribunal.

    We welcome the US government’s determination earlier this year that crimes committed against Rohingya amount to genocide. Five months have passed since this decisive step. The US must bolster accountability efforts by joining The Gambia case at the ICJ and impose further sanctions including sanctioning the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) – one of the junta’s main sources of foreign currency revenue.

    The Myanmar military continues to enrich themselves through their businesses and are enabled by the web of arms brokers that supply them with weapons and equipment to carry out their atrocity crimes. There must be further efforts to impose targeted sanctions against their businesses, partners and cronies. Governments must impose arms embargo against the military, including on jet fuel to the military, while working towards a coordinated global arms embargo.

    The ongoing crimes against the Rohingya underscore the importance of the National Unity Government (NUG), as the legitimate government of Myanmar, to translate the policy of the NUG into a concrete set of actions and implement the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ. These can include by fully and meaningfully engaging with the Rohingya to restore their equal rights, recognizing the Rohingya as an ethnic and indigenous group to Myanmar, and ensuring their representation in the ongoing political processes, including in the highest echelons of the NUG governing structures. The NUG, the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) and the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) must immediately amend the discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law by removing all discriminatory articles and clauses as pledged in its policy paper, and repeal the racist and xenophobic four “Race and Religion Protection Laws” and the National Verification Process that has long been used as a tool for genocide. The people of Spring Revolution have shown their solidarity and empathy with the Rohingya community since its start. It is time that the NUG translate its policy and people’s solidarity into actions.

    For the PDF version of this statement in English, click here

    For the PDF version of this statement in Burmese, click here

    For more information, please contact:
    ▪ Tun Khin, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, [email protected]
    ▪ Wai Wai Nu, Women’s Peace Network, [email protected]
    ▪ Thinzar Shunlei Yi, Sisters 2 Sisters, [email protected]
    ▪ Khin Ohmar, Progressive Voice, [email protected]

    Signed by 384 organizations, including 265 groups who have chosen not to disclose their names:
    1. 8888 Generation (New Zealand)
    2. Action Committee for Democracy Development
    3. Ah Nah Podcast – Conversation with Myanmar
    4. All Burma Democratic Face in New Zealand
    5. ALTSEAN-Burma
    6. Ananda Data
    7. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
    8. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
    9. Asian Dignity Initiative
    10. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    11. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
    12. Association Suisse-Birmanie (ASB)
    13. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
    14. Auckland Kachin Community NZ
    15. Auckland Zomi Community
    16. Ayeyarwaddy Youth Network
    17. Bandugavlar Civil Call – BCC (Sagaing Region)
    18. Blooming Padauk
    19. Burma Action Ireland
    20. Burma Campaign UK
    21. Burma Civil War Museum (BCM)
    22. Burma Human Rights Network
    23. Burma Task Force
    24. Burman suomalaiset Finland
    25. Burmese Community Group (Manawatu, NZ)
    26. Burmese Muslim Association (BMA)
    27. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
    28. Burmese Rohingya Welfare Organisation New Zealand
    29. Campaign for a New Myanmar
    30. Chin Community of Auckland
    31. Chin Human Rights Organization
    32. Chin Leaders of Tomorrow
    33. Chin MATA Working Group
    34. Chin Resources Center
    35. Christian Solidarity Worldwide
    36. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    37. CRPH & NUG Supporters Ireland
    38. CRPH Funding Ireland
    39. CRPH Support Group, Norway
    40. Democracy for Ethnic Minorities Organization
    41. Democracy for Myanmar – Working Group (NZ)
    42. Democracy, Peace And Women’s Organization
    43. Digital Right Collective
    44. Equality Myanmar
    45. European Karen Network (EKN)
    46. Federal Myanmar Benevolence Group (NZ)
    47. Freedom for Burma
    48. Future Thanlwin
    49. General Strike Committee of Nationalities (GSCN)
    50. Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy (GM4MD)
    51. Grass-root People
    52. Human Rights Educator Network
    53. Human Rights Foundation of Monland
    54. India For Myanmar
    55. Info Birmanie
    56. Initiatives for International Dialogue
    57. Institute for Asian Democracy
    58. International Campaign for the Rohingya
    59. Justice for All
    60. Justice For Myanmar
    61. Karen Human Rights Group
    62. Karen Swedish Community
    63. Karen Women’s Organization
    64. Karenni National Women’s Organization
    65. Karenni Society Finland
    66. Karenni Society New Zealand
    67. Keng Tung Youth
    68. Kyauktada Strike Committee (KSC)
    69. MATA (Sagaing Region)
    70. Metta Campaign Mandalay
    71. Myanmar Accountability Project
    72. Myanmar Action Group Denmark (MAGD)
    73. Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability – MATA
    74. Myanmar Cultural Research Society (MCRS)
    75. Myanmar Diaspora Group Finland
    76. Myanmar Engineers – New Zealand
    77. Myanmar Gonye (New Zealand)
    78. Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)
    79. Myanmar Students’ Union in New Zealand
    80. Never Again Coalition
    81. Netherlands – Myanmar Solidarity Platform
    82. Network for Advocacy Action
    83. New Rehmonnya Federated Force (NRFF)
    84. New Zealand Doctors for NUG
    85. New Zealand Karen Association
    86. New Zealand Zo Community Inc.
    87. No Business With Genocide
    88. Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica
    89. Overseas Mon Association, New Zealand
    90. Pa-O Women’s Union
    91. Progressive Voice
    92. Pyithu Gonye (New Zealand)
    93. Rvwang Community Association New Zealand
    94. Rohingya Action Ireland
    95. SaNaR (Save the Natural Resource)
    96. Save and Care Organization for Ethnic Women at Border Areas
    97. Save Myanmar Fundraising Group (New Zealand)
    98. Shan Community (New Zealand)
    99. Shan MATA
    100. Sisters 2 Sisters
    101. SOS MYANMAR (ရုန််းကန်သံအဖ ွဲ့)
    102. Southern Dragon (Myanmar)
    103. Southern Youth Development Organization
    104. Students for Free Burma (SFB)
    105. Swedish Burma Committee
    106. Synergy-Social Harmony Organization
    107. Ta’ang Women’s Organization
    108. Ta’ang Legal Aid
    109. Tanintharyi MATA
    110. The Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)
    111. The Sentry
    112. Thint Myat Lo Thu Myar Organization
    113. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)
    114. U.S. Advocacy Coalition for Myanmar (USACM)
    115. U.S. Campaign for Burma
    116. Women Advocacy Coalition Myanmar
    117. Women’s League of Burma
    118. Women’s Peace Network
    119. အထက်အညာလ င်ပြင်ရြ်ဝန််း

    SOURCE https://www.forum-asia.org/?p=37259