Statement from Refugees International Fellow Ali Johar:
“This week marks six years since the horrific acts of ￼￼genocide against the Rohingya people. My people were subjected to a campaign of brutality, exodus, and systemic discrimination. Yet Rohingya survivors remain resilient and continue to strive for justice and a better life. The international community must rise to the occasion, acknowledging the urgency and gravity of the situation.
August 25th is a reminder of the ruthless genocide Myanmar’s military forces inflicted upon the Rohingya people. However, our plight is not the story of a single day, or even one violent crackdown. The roots of the genocide lie in the decades of state-sponsored crimes to erase our existence. The atrocities shattered our collective conscience and tested the very essence of the world’s shared humanity. In 2017, the genocidal onslaught forced more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee to refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh. An independent UN fact finding mission reported more than 392 Rohingya villages were razed to the ground in 2017 alone. Rohingya groups estimated more than 30,000 people, including children, were killed, and tens of thousands were raped. Today, 1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and tens of thousands more in other countries in the region face aid cuts, restrictions of basic rights, and even the threat of forced return to Myanmar. Meanwhile, more than 600,000 continue to face violence in Myanmar. Of this number, more than 140,000 souls remained trapped in internally displaced concentration camps.
The gravity of these crimes has been acknowledged by the UN Independent Fact Finding Mission, the United States government, and independent organizations as crimes against humanity and genocide.
Despite widespread condemnation, those responsible for the plight of the Rohingya are yet to be held accountable. Rohingya and human rights groups continue to call for justice in the face of this impunity. Being a Rohingya myself, when I pause to reflect upon the pain and resilience of my fellow Rohingya victims, it becomes evident that the strides made towards justice remain insufficient. While survivors await the reckoning of justice, the perpetrators roam free—a bitter injustice that stains the collective conscience of the international justice system.
In the camps in Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees endure life in overcrowded and fenced enclosures, stripped of even the most basic needs. A dire consequence is the denial of formal education to half a million Rohingya children, dooming their potential to a nightmarish darkness. Refugees are denied opportunities to earn an income and have been forced into a life of nutritional deprivation—an ordeal exacerbated by recent reductions in food support by the World Food Program.
￼This year, let us not merely grieve the lives lost, but amplify the resilient voices of the Rohingya survivors. We demand accountability, seeking not only justice but a lasting solution that restores our human rights and dignity.
Amid the commemorations of this painful anniversary, let us also acknowledge the unyielding fortitude of the Rohingya. Despite unfathomable hardships, the Rohingya people have displayed courage, resilience, and determination. It is incumbent upon the international community to honor the memory of the victims by securing justice and providing access to education, livelihoods, and safety to allow our community to rebuild.
We call upon the international community to unite in remembrance, healing, and decisive action, ensuring that the legacy of the Rohingya genocide compels everyone to shoulder the responsibility that lies ahead.
Justice delayed is justice denied.”
For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Refugees International Vice President for Strategic Outreach Sarah Sheffer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured Image: A Rohingya refugee man makes a bamboo basket at a Hindu Rohingya camp in Ukhia, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on August 24, 2022. Photo by Munir uz Zaman/AFP via Getty Images.