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Amnesty Intl expresses grief as Myanmar military enjoys impunity

  • Published at 12:02 am August 23rd, 2019
Nearly a million Rohingyas crossed over to Bangladesh after insurgent attacks on Myanmar security forces in August 2017 triggered a sweeping military crackdown throughout Rakhine State in Myanmar Mahmud Hasan Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Despite completion of preparations to start the repatriation process on Thursday, no Rohingya turned up to return to Myanmar

Amnesty International has expressed grief saying the military responsible for atrocities on Rohingyas in Rakhine state of Myanmar is still enjoying impunity.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the London-based human rights advocacy group came up with a warning that Rakhine state still remained unsafe while those responsible for atrocities were continuing to evade justice.

Amnesty gave the warning ahead of the scheduled repatriation of Rohingyas to their homeland Myanmar from Bangladesh on Thursday and August 25 marking two years of the Myanmar military's security operations in Rakhine which forced more than 740,000 Rohingya women, men and children to flee their homes and villages.

The brutal campaign was marked by widespread atrocities, which a UN investigation team said amount to crimes against humanity and likely genocide.

However, despite completion of preparations to start the repatriation process on Thursday, no Rohingya turned up to return to Myanmar. 

Amnesty said despite international outrage and the adoption of a UN Human Rights Council resolution to pursue accountability in Myanmar, the generals who oversaw the attacks on the Rohingya were still in their posts.  

"Bangladesh and Myanmar's recent proposal to repatriate thousands of Rohingya has triggered widespread fear in the refugee camps. Memories of murder, rape and torched villages are still fresh in the minds of Rohingya refugees. With Myanmar's military as powerful and remorseless as ever, it remains unsafe for anyone to return to Rakhine," said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's regional director for East and Southeast Asia.

"This grim anniversary is a stark reminder of the failure of the UN Security Council to stand with the survivors and bring the perpetrators of mass atrocity to justice. The Security Council must urgently refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court, and impose a comprehensive arms embargo."

Nicholas said: "For the remaining Rohingya, Rakhine State is nothing but an open-air prison. The Myanmar authorities have done virtually nothing to correct the situation and in fact continue to commit crimes against humanity. International donors, including regional governments, must ensure that they do not facilitate ongoing crimes, and instead press Myanmar to restore the Rohingya's rights, including citizenship rights."

"Meanwhile, the international community must work with Bangladesh to support Rohingya refugees to rebuild their lives in dignity. No decisions about the future of the Rohingya should be taken without proper consultation with the Rohingya themselves."

On September 27, 2018, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to create an accountability mechanism to collect and preserve evidence of crimes under international law in Myanmar. 

Other accountability efforts have included targeted sanctions against military officials by several states and by the European Union, as well as a request from the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into crimes under the court's jurisdiction committed against the Rohingya population since October 2016.

Amnesty International has welcomed these steps towards accountability, but continues to call for the situation in Myanmar to be referred to the International Criminal Court, including all atrocity crimes against the Rohingya, as well as ongoing war crimes against ethnic minorities in Kachin, Rakhine, and Shan States. 

"The situation for the Rohingya and Myanmar's other persecuted ethnic minorities will never improve until Myanmar's military faces justice for its appalling crimes," said Nicholas.

"The humanitarian response to help the Rohingya rebuild their lives must go hand in hand with a robust pursuit of accountability. The international community has repeatedly failed the Rohingya in the past – it must not do so again."