Updates On The Rohingya Crisis
At a Select Committee meeting last month, MPs heard an update on the crisis of the stateless Rohingya, seeking refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh. International organisations, including the UN, are being blocked from entering the conflict-crippled Rakhine state in the north of the country. The international community must put their words into action and invoke higher sanctions on a country refusing to acknowledge the military-led genocide within its borders.
The meeting of the Department for International Development Commons Select Committee came less than a week after the Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi made her first visit to the region, which has been drained of its Rohingya Muslim community. It is estimated that over 600,000 have fled since the start of the heightened conflict in August, labelled as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner For Human Rights. Reports of indiscriminate killings and sexual violence continue to pour out of the region. The crisis is worsened by the fact that the majority-Buddhist state still refuses to call the long-persecuted minority an ethnic group, but continues to consider them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh - it is clear this stems from an anti-Islamic sentiment. As of December 2016, 1 in 7 stateless persons worldwide are Rohingya per United Nations figures, and the Rohingya are the world’s largest stateless community.
Having suffered decades of rights violations without any form of citizenship or recognition, the most recent violence has forced the Rohingya population to flee to the Cox’s Bazaar in the southern region of Bangladesh, where the Red Cross have called for a unilateral international response to what they call an unprecedented crisis. It is reported that more than half of these displaced citizens are children. Here, squalid conditions are taking away childhoods and lives.
All eyes are on the Nobel-peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, whose silence on the horrors under her leadership has been universally condemned by international leaders from Desmond Tutu to Barack Obama, with the British MPs hearing recently how she is ‘complicit’ in the crimes. Aung San Suu Kyi, who is considered a moral icon for her decades of work in installing Myanmar’s current democratic government, is yet to intervene in the military-led campaign of violence in the region, and has dismissed it as a campaign of misinformation. Who would have thought that it would be “The Lady” of Myanmar who was accusing others of ‘fake-news’?
Elected in 2012 after her release from house-arrest under the Myanmar’s previous military dictatorship, it was hoped that she would heal the deep ethnic divide within the nation. However, she failed to field a single Muslim candidate for the 2015 election, despite the fact the country has between 5-10% Muslim population. Many claim she is still pandering to Buddhist nationalists to ensure her leadership - either way, calls for her 1991 Nobel peace prize to be revoked have been heard by the Nobel Institute, who have said there is no possibility of withdrawing the honour from laureates.
The world is indeed watching - Myanmar’s military have been heavily implicated in the crisis, with calls to reimpose the US travel bans on military leaders which were revoked under the Obama administration. At a recent UN meeting on the crisis, China’s representative urged patience, saying the international community should allow the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to solve the problem through bilateral cooperation, whilst French delegate Francois Delatre called upon others to ensure adequate support. However, a recent UN report on hunger in the region was recently shelved for suspicious reasons - claims that they have postponed it in order to collaborate with the Myanmar government on the issue. Is this really a UN committed to transparently ending this genocide?
It is clear that the issue has been ignored, postponed and compromised by both Myanmar and it’s critics. When will they learn?
This blog post was written by Megan Clark, a STAND UK Communications Task Force member, who studies French and Politics at the University of Bristol.