PBS NewsHours’ Amna Nawaz talks to Refugees International's Dan Sullivan about the hostile conditions in Myanmar preventing Rohingya from returning home.
On August 27, the UN-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released a devastating report concluding that the country’s military leaders should be prosecuted for the “gravest crimes under international law, against the Rohingya minority. While this aspect of the report has garnered the greatest attention, other important findings including that the crimes of the Myanmar military go far beyond those committed against the Rohingya, and that the burden of responsibility for those crimes extends beyond the military have gone largely unnoticed.
As we mark the first anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority from Myanmar, it is clear that too little has been done to support, protect, and provide for this marginalized community. Now, accountability is urgently needed to provide a sense of justice to the Rohingya, to act as a deterrent against further abuses of the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in the country, and to help stabilize the region.
The Security Council delegation's visit to the destroyed Rohingya villages in Myanmar should be an important first critical step toward accountability for the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, and an important step toward the type of conditions conducive to the voluntary return of Rohingya in safety and dignity to Myanmar. Now the UN and international community must deliver.
Refugees International (RI) traveled to Bangladesh in May 2017, visiting the makeshift settlements for Rohingya refugees who have fled from neighboring Myanmar. More than 70,000 Rohingya have fled severe human rights abuses by the Myanmar military since October 2016, joining as many as 500,000 estimated Rohingya who have come to Bangladesh during decades of persecution in Myanmar.
This Friday, President Obama and other world leaders will be meeting in New York to sign the historic UN climate change accord reached in Paris last November. With 130 countries standing ready with pens poised – including the world’s two largest emitters, the U.S. and China – there is much cause for celebration. But with numerous scientific studies showing that climate change is happening faster than anticipated, and more still questioning whether the commitments under the Paris agreement will get us where we need to be in order to avoid “dangerous interference with the climate system,” it’s time to get real about whether we’re doing enough to prepare and adapt our communities, sources of income, and ways of life to a warmer, more disaster-prone, and insecure world.
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.