New Dark Chapter as Rohingya Refugees Remain Stranded at Sea

Please see below statement from Senior Advocate for Human Rights Daniel P. Sullivan:

“The rising vilification and abandonment of Rohingya refugees requires immediate action. Hundreds of Rohingya refugees remain stranded at sea in dire conditions after Malaysia blocked their boats from docking and Bangladesh refused to allow them to return ashore. Many Rohingya have already died at sea and more are sure to perish if no action is taken. Meanwhile, hate speech against the Rohingya is also rising in Malaysia, as seen in numerous Facebook posts and online petitions. Malaysian authorities have begun rounding up refugees and migrants, Rohingya among them.

Bangladesh and Malaysia have defended these policies as designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. But governments don’t need to choose between protecting public health and providing refuge. Last month, Bangladesh successfully quarantined some 400 Rohingya returning from boats without any cases of the coronavirus. 

Bangladesh and Malaysia should allow those refugees in boats near their shores to disembark. Malaysia must also clearly denounce hate speech and should work with other governments in the region to prevent the stranding of asylum seekers at sea.

Myanmar remains the chief architect of Rohingya suffering, but recent policies in Bangladesh and Malaysia threaten a new dark chapter in the story of this long-persecuted people.”


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Sarah Sheffer at or 202 540 7029.