‘Without accountability, Rohingya repatriation is trap’-BHRN

Burma Human Rights Network press release

প্রকাশিত: ৭:৫০ অপরাহ্ণ, জুন ৮, ২০১৮ | আপডেট: ৭:৫০:অপরাহ্ণ, জুন ৮, ২০১৮

A U.K.-based rights group called a repatriation agreement for Rohingya refugees that Myanmar signed with the UN “a potential trap” which lacked accountability on part of the state.

According to a statement released on Thursday by Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) said the lack of accountability would encourage the perpetrators to commit crimes again.

On May 31, the Myanmar government signed an agreement with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), allowing them to get involved in the much-delayed repatriation process.

The group recalled the previous UN-coordinated repatriations following mass exoduses from military crackdowns in 1978, 1991 and 1992.

“Witnesses to these repatriations still speak of gross human rights abuses that have continued and worsened over the years.”

Myanmar said last month that it has verified 1,101 in a list of over 8,000 Rohingya refugees, who are willing to return to Rakhine state. The list was sent by the Bangladeshi government.

BHRN Executive Director Kyaw Win pointed to many concerns that need to be addressed.

“Based on past experiences, lack of accountability encouraged the perpetrators to commit crimes again, whereas the population who experienced the atrocities need concrete assurance of safety, which is not the case here,” he said.

Win said returning the victims of such “a genocidal campaign” without proper mechanisms to assure their safe return “is not only irresponsible but would be unethical of the international community to support as well”.

The group said in order to be successful, any plan moving forward now must contain such mechanisms to provide the safety of 120,000 returnees who have been trapped in open air prisons for the past six years, otherwise, the military would consider itself “to be acting with impunity”.

It also called on the UN and its relevant agencies “to have a plan of consequence for the Burmese Government if they fail their obligations to this memorandum or if any other human rights violations continue”.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, more than 750,000 refugees, mostly children, and women have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to Amnesty International.

At least 9,400 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24 last year, according to Doctors Without Borders.

In a report published recently, the humanitarian group said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.