This post originally appeared on UN Dispatch.
By Isabel Rutherfurd, Refugees International Intern
Speaking to Burmese in Yangon last December, I heard a lot of cautious optimism and relief about the reforms inspired by the government’s transition to democracy.
This month, the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) will hold their second round of negotiations so far this year. The long-running Kachin conflict has resulted in more than 100,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), and a permanent cease-fire between the parties is desperately needed. Without it, tens of thousands of civilians will remain cut off from life-saving assistance.
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.
As the 67th General Assembly opens this week, and as the United Nations gears up for the countless high-level meetings and side events that follow, the enormity of the challenges facing the UN is striking.
The political thaw in Burma has advanced so quickly that it is hard to believe Aung San Suu Kyi was here in Washington yesterday, giving her first public speech at the outset of an historic trip to the U.S.
Yet as Suu Kyi was quick to point out in her remarks (which you can view in the video below), the country’s progress to date is fragile and easily reversible. Indeed, she reminded the audience at the U.S. Institute of Peace that she remains but the leader of a small opposition group in Parliament, not the head of government.
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.