South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a network of human rights defenders, vehemently condemns the wide ranging atrocities against the Rohingyas by the Myanmar’s military in their ‘clearance operations’ since 25 August 2017. An attack by Rohingya insurgents against the Myanmar security forces has reportedly triggered off the extreme spate of violence and discrimination against Rohingyas. SAHR is also concerned that the Myanmar government has blocked the UN Aid agencies from delivering vital supplies of food, water and medicine reaching the vulnerable and desperate civilians in the Rakhine state. In the past few days Myanmar has reportedly been laying landmines across a section of its border to prevent Rohingya refugees returning from Bangladesh.
The government of Myanmar has denied citizenship to approx. 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority living in the country, classifying them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh despite their roots in the country that go back to centuries. There have been many instances where Rohingyas have been subjected to targeted attacks in the past – in 1978, 1991 and in 2012 in which each incident triggered an exodus from Myanmar. In May 2017, the UN appointed a commission entailing three senior experts to probe into the allegations of abuses and violence against Rohingyas were denied visa to enter the country. Since 25 August 2017, about 125,000 Rohingyas have fled the atrocities to Bangladesh resulting in a humanitarian crisis. More than 1000 have been killed while some had died en route to safety as well. There is already about 300,000 – 500,000 Rohingya’s in Bangladesh where 32,000 have refugee status and live in camps in Cox Bazar. India is currently proposing to deport 40,000 Rohingyas from the country which is being challenged in the Supreme Court. SAHR appeals to the governments of neighbouring South Asian nations to do their utmost in assisting these desperate and vulnerable people in their hour of need.
Further, SAHR urgently demands the government of Myanmar to halt the large scale human rights violations amounting to a genocide of the Rohingyas and grant citizenship to these people. It strongly urges the government to facilitate the UN agencies to deliver much needed food and medication to civilians who are suffering in the Rakhine state; and end the propaganda campaign of the government against these people and aid organisations. It also recommends the immediate intervention of the international community against the sustained violence and discrimination against the ethnic minority of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and to implement the recommendations of the advisory Committee led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the government of Myanmar.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights
Dr. Nimalka Fernando