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A call for action to protect the Rohingya

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Human rights and legal groups have called for the international community to take steps to protect the Rohingya in both Burma and Bangladesh. 

The Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) requested the U.K. convene a U.N. Security Council meeting about escalating violence in Burma’s Arakan State after 38 Rohingya were killed by airstrikes in the last week of conflict. 

“The U.K. must urgently convene a U.N. Security Council meeting and take concrete steps to protect not only the Rohingya, but all civilians in Rakhine State and across Burma,” said Tun Khin, the president of BROUK. 

The attacks are in violation of the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2019 to protect the Rohingya in Burma. Tun Khin called for the Security Council to coordinate international action to sanction aviation fuel shipments to the military. 

This request from BROUK comes as the Refugee Law Lab, a Canada-based legal group advocating for the rights of refugees, called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged crimes against humanity being committed by Bangladesh against nearly one million Rohingya refugees.

The Refugee Law Lab claimed that Bangladesh authorities have refused to grant the Rohingya legal status and has instead sought to pressure them to return to Burma. 

It stated that under Bangladeshi law, Rohingya are barred from obtaining jobs, attending formal schools, and have difficulty accessing the internet as they are not allowed to purchase SIM cards without identification documents. Bangladesh authorities have been accused of extorting, arbitrarily arresting, and committing violence against Rohingya refugees. 

“The available information provides a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity are being committed against the Rohingya by Bangladeshi officials including: deportation, persecution on ethnic and/or racial grounds, other inhumane acts, and apartheid under Article 7(1) of the Rome Statute,” stated the Refugee Law Lab. 

The ICC has been gathering evidence for its investigation into genocide against the Rohingya from Bangladesh as it is a signatory to the Rome Statute but Burma is not. In 2017, over 700,000 Rohingya fled Burma into Bangladesh to escape a military crackdown in northern Arakan State that the U.N. called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and the U.S. government has labeled a genocide.

The U.N. states that a total of 972,000 Rohingya refugees are temporarily staying in Bangladesh while 630,000 Rohingya remain in Arakan State deprived of citizenship in Burma. Many Rohingya have taken to the seas to escape harsh living conditions in both countries. A boat carrying 151 Rohingya refugees capsized off the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh Province on Wednesday. Only 75 of them have been rescued so far.

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