Speakers at an international conference in Dhaka have urged the international community to “comprehensively investigate the ongoing acts of genocide, mass atrocities, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing” in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
They have also demanded prosecution and punishment of those responsible for these violations, and protect the Rohingyas from further harm.
Experts and dignitaries from Bangladesh and several other countries as well as different international organizations made the call in the “Dhaka Declaration” that they came up with at the end of the conference, outlining measures to find sustainable solutions to the ongoing Rohingya crisis.
The two-day event, titled “Rohingya Refugee Crisis: Towards Sustainable Solutions,” ended at the Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban in Dhaka University (DU) on Tuesday.
The conference was jointly organized by DU Centre for Genocide Studies (CGS), Brac University's Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ), and ActionAid Bangladesh.
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The Dhaka Declaration, co-signed by the participants, called upon the UN and the international community to use diplomatic channels to provide sufficient humanitarian assistance and other support to ensure protection and rights of Rohingya women, children and other vulnerable groups.
"We call upon the international community to ensure their voluntary, dignified, informed and protected return [to Myanmar]," it read.
Recalling the promise of the Global Summit 2005, the 16-point declaration also urged to take timely and decisive action in accordance with the UN Charter in situations of mass killings and mass eviction.
The experts put emphasis on Myanmar's responsibility in restoring and protecting citizenship rights and human dignity for all, including enacting legislations to uphold the socio-cultural, political and economic rights of the Rohingya population.
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They also extended solidarity and support to the Bangladesh government in its efforts to provide for and protect the members of the persecuted ethnic minority group.
Addressing the conference’s valedictory session as the chief guest, the prime minister’s International Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi said sending the Rohingyas forcefully to Bangladesh and subsequently starting the crisis was the result of a deep and well-organized plan of Myanmar.
As Bangladesh was not responsible for the crisis, the country alone cannot solve it. The solution has to come from Myanmar, he added.
Saying Myanmar was still unsafe for the Rohingyas, Rizvi stated that more international pressure was needed to ensure safe return of the refugees back to their country.
The Dhaka Declaration also supported the recommendation of the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar “to establish a documentation structure to collect, map and preserve evidence of human rights violations and abuses, and testimony from refugees in Cox's Bazar,” and call upon the UN General Assembly to implement it.
It said perpetrators of genocide/ethnic cleansing/crimes against humanity must be held accountable, and those who were either directly responsible or complicit must face justice individually and collectively.
The declaration also said those who have taken the responsibility to support and protect the persecuted women, men and children, for mitigating the harm or trying their best to make it right, should be recognized for their role and for the example they set for others.
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Experts from host Bangladesh and India, Thailand, the US, the UK, Sweden and Singapore expressed their solidarity with the declaration when it was presented by DU's international relations teacher and CGS Director Prof Imtiaz Ahmed at the last session of the conference.
In her closing remarks, ActionAid Bangladesh’s Country Director Farah Kabir urged the international community and world leaders to come forward and stand up for the issue.
The conference’s Co-convener Manzoor Alam, also the CPJ executive director and chair of ActionAid Bangladesh, also said the Dhaka Declaration was a living document which needed more reviewing and implication.
National and international researchers and fellows presented six papers on the crisis during three sessions on Monday and 11 papers during four sessions on Tuesday.
To provide a vision narrative of the Rohingya crisis, ActionAid Bangladesh also organized a photography exhibition, titled “Rohingya Exodus 2017,” by photographer Mahmud Rahman at the Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban premises.