UN High Commissioner for Human Rights classified the situation of Rohingya’s in Myanmar as likely to be a “textbook example of ethnic cleansings”. While Bangladesh is struggling but hosts 436.000 refugees Australia and Thailand have introduced measures to avoid potential influx and Australia are continuing repatriation efforts for the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
Research conducted by Human Rights Watch found evidence of crimes against humanity committed by Myanmar’s security forces. Landmines have been planted along the border that divides Myanmar and Bangladesh. According to the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) coordinating the humanitarian response in Cox’s Bazar an estimated 436.000 Rohingya refugees have crossed the border to Bangladesh since the outbreak of violence in Rakhine State on 25 August 2017. On Thursday a boat carrying 130 Rohingya refugees was reported capsized off the Bay of Bangal. Myanmar denied the accusations but as of now refused to allow independent investigators to enter Rakhine State.
In her address to the UN General Assembly Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh suggested the creation of “Safe Zones” inside Myanmar under UN supervision, to start the repatriation of Rohingya refugees. The suggestion was meet with opposition from Human Rights Organizations based on prior failed attempts to protect civilians efficiently through UN safe zones.
Thailand’s Prime Minister and chair of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Gen Prayut Chan-o-chat introduced a three-step plan to intercept Rohingya refugee boats, allowing onward travel on condition of not attempting to enter Thai mainland and detaining those managing to get to the mainland.
Despite the vow to follow Papua New Guinean Supreme Court ruling and close the detention facility on Manus Island, Australia continues the policy of detaining refugees arriving by boat. Rohingya refugees are therefor still detained under worrying conditions and media reports of repatriation efforts including towards Rohingya refugees by the Australian government.
On demand of Britain, France, the United States and four non-permanent members the UN Security Council came together on 28 September to discuss on Myanmar. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called for a temporary arms embargo, saying: “And any country that is currently providing weapons to the Burmese military should suspend these activities until sufficient accountability measures are in place”. The Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia warned: “The international community must be very careful before labelling something genocide and ethnic cleansing”, he continued, calling for violence from any sides to end.” Myanmar’s representative repeatedly denied the accusations and invited Secretary General Guterres to visit the country.
Amnesty International and 87 civil society organizations issued an open letter to UN member states demanding, “concrete action and (place) direct pressure on Myanmar’s military and civilian leaders”. Alistair D.B. Cook, a researcher at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) points out, that a veto by China and Russia is likely and that action from Europe would be more effective. Ludovica Marchi, visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science adds, that particular the Unions good relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) could help to resolve the crisis.
For further information:
- ECRE, Predictable crisis in Myanmar: EU blind on one eye? 8 September 2017