Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are once again living in fear that they will be forced to return to Burma despite The Burmese government had taken no genuine steps to ensure safe return.
“The international community keep saying that there must be safe, voluntary and dignified return, but are doing nothing to pressure Aung San Suu Kyi to make that a reality,” said Tun Khin, President of Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK. “Safe voluntary and dignified return means full citizenship, an end to discrimination, and justice and accountability, such as referring Burma to the International Criminal Court.”
Bangladesh and Burma have begun the process of attempting to return more than 3,000 Rohingya refugees to Burma, just days before the second anniversary of the Burmese military’s genocidal military the offensive which forced more than 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh.
Since that time the civilian government of Burma, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, has continued with a policy of implementing a system of Apartheid against the Rohingya, implementing laws and policies which violate international law. This is an integral part of the genocide against the Rohingya, which goes far beyond the military offences against us.
Aung San Suu Kyi has constructed a giant prison camp where returning Rohingya refugees will be forced to live, rather than being able to return to their original villages. They will be offered no compensation for the horrific violence they have suffered, the loss of family members, and for the loss of homes, farms, shops and other personal property.
The approximately half-million Rohingya still living in Burma have no citizenship, no freedom of movement, and live in fear. More than 100,000 are still detained in IDP camps, even where they are officially supposed to have been shut down.
Instead of insisting that the government of Burma gives full citizenship to the Rohingya, our right under international law, the USA, UK, ASEAN, EU and UN have been supportive of the NVC card process. The government of Burma has tried to claim that this process is a step towards citizenship. This is a lie. It is a process by which Rohingya are defined as foreigners and do not have full citizenship rights. In any case, there is no legal requirement for NVC cards to be issued before citizenship. The only explanation for the international community acceptance and support for the NVC process is a continuation of the policy of not prioritising the rights of the Rohingya, putting relations with the government and business interests first.
Two years on from the August 2017 military offensives, governments are not implementing the recommendations of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. The Burmese military has been allowed to get away with genocide. The government of Burma are being allowed to continue policies against the Rohingya which are part of the ‘ongoing genocide’ described by the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission.
“The price paid by the Burmese military for genocide against my people has been that a dozen or so soldiers now can’t take holidays in America and Europe,” said Tun Khin. “The USA and EU don’t support referring Burma to the International Criminal Court, don’t support a global arms embargo and don’t support sanctions against the military and their companies. They don’t even give enough aid to the refugees in Bangladesh.”