The main obstacle to allowing Rohingya refugees ethnically cleansed from Myanmar to return to their homes remains the government of Myanmar. International actions aimed at addressing the crisis should reflect that reality.
The truth is clear when you speak to Rohingya refugees who continue to regularly arrive in Bangladesh, as we did last month as part of a team with Refugees International. Those remaining in Myanmar continue to face restricted movement, forced labor, and arbitrary arrest. This leaves little incentive for others to return.
It has been a year and a half since a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, in response to attacks on security posts by a Rohingya insurgent group, caused over 700,000 Rohingyas to flee into Bangladesh for safety. Thus far, none have chosen to return home.
Despite pledges by the Myanmar government to establish conditions for safe and dignified returns, our interviews with those who had fled Myanmar just days before suggested that life for Rohingyas inside Myanmar remains dire. There has been no real accountability for the atrocity crimes committed at the height of the ethnic cleansing campaign. Instead, serious human rights violations and severe restrictions on freedom of movement continue. Additionally, the security situation in northern Rakhine is deteriorating, and humanitarian access, already highly restricted, is being further curtailed.
Following the mass exodus that began in August 2017, only a few hundred thousand Rohingyas remain in Myanmar, primarily in isolated villages in northern Rakhine state. Rohingyas have long faced state-sponsored abuse and discrimination – including the denial of citizenship. Following the events of August 2017, the Myanmar government increased movement restrictions for Rohingyas, extending nightly curfews.
Sep 23, 2020The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Thomas Andrews, has questioned Myanmar for not fulfilling its commitment over Rohingya repatriation. “Where is justice for those stranded in refugee camps in Bangladesh while facilities are constructed on their homeland for the same military that stands accused at the International Court of […]
Sep 01, 2020