About two years ago I secretly met with a dozen stateless Rohingya refugees in a hotel room in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. They were new arrivals from Rakhine State in Myanmar and had waded through shallow areas of the Naf River on the Bay of Bengal to escape violence and persecution. We met clandestinely because they were afraid that if they were identified as Rohingya, they would be arrested, detained, and sent back to Myanmar. Newspapers worldwide were reporting the expulsion of large numbers of Rohingya, and the refugees knew of others who had been spotted and deported.
On my research missions to Myanmar and to Bangladesh, I have met so many Rohingyas who suffered terrible abuses at the hands of the NaSaKa border force and whose everyday lives were blighted by their fear of it. In our reports, Refugees International has repeatedly demanded that the NaSaKa be reined in, and so we welcome President Thein Sein's announcement that this notorious force is being disbanded.
Right now, the shell-shocked residents of Moore, Oklahoma, are grappling with the loss of 24 lives and the destruction of entire neighborhoods following a devastating tornado on May 20. Meanwhile, across the globe, tens of thousands of people in Bangladesh and Burma are returning to damaged homes and villages in the wake of Cyclone Mahasen, which thankfully proved more merciful than anticipated.
This post originally appeared on UN Dispatch.
This article originally appeared in The Bangkok Post.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been more successful in mobilising Myanmar's people for change than any figure in recent history. Through her perseverance, she convinced her compatriots that with time, effort and unity of purpose, reform really was possible. The odds were long, but eventually she won and was proved right.
On Tuesday, October 9th, the Open Society Foundations and Refugees International co-hosted an event on the ongoing inter-communal violence in Rakhine State, Burma, which has displaced thousands of stateless Rohingya. The event brought together representatives of the U.S. government, civil society, and the media to review recent developments in Burma and Bangladesh.
It’s hard to imagine that life could get much worse for the Rohingya, a stateless Burmese Muslim minority group. But yesterday’s news that Bangladesh has ordered non-governmental organizations to stop providing Rohingya refugees with (already minimal) services will surely increase their suffering.
One of the most persecuted groups in the world is now facing more violence and suffering, yet help is being denied them.
In recent weeks, Bangladesh has turned back more than 2,000 people seeking refuge from communal violence in Burma’s Rakhine State. These refugees were fleeing targeted attacks on the Muslim Rohingya community, and refusing them entry puts Bangladesh in violation of international law.
Today, leaders from government, civil society, and the UN gathered at the US Institute of Peace to explore statelessness and its impact on women worldwide. The Institute's sparkling new headquarters played host to an insightful and inspiring discussion - a fitting kick-off for a week full of stateless advocacy here at RI.