UNHRC asks Myanmar to ensure safe return of Rohingyas

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution on June 23, 2020 directing Myanmar to create conditions that will ensure a safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingya Muslims. 

The 47-member UNHRC adopted the resolution with 37 votes in favour, 2 against and 8 abstentions. The council further called upon the government of Myanmar to provide media, independent observers and diplomatic corps full access to the country.

The UNHRC also urged Myanmar government to lift internet shutdown in Rakhine state. The council also stressed on the need to look into the root cause of human rights violations and abuses that took place against ethnic minority community of Rohingyas in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The UNHRC resolution also commended Bangladesh for its humanitarian effort in accommodating the large Rohingya refugee population which fleed from Myanmar to Bangladesh in the wake of large-scale violence and human rights violations in their native Rakhine state.

ICJ directs Myanmar to take urgent steps to protect Rohingyas

The International Court of Justice had on January 23, 2020 directed Myanmar to take urgent measures to protect the Muslim community from persecution.

The ICJ had pronounced that Myanmar should take “all measures within its powers” to prevent the alleged genocide against Rohingyas and also preserve the evidence of alleged crimes against them.

What is the Rohingya Crisis?

In August 2017, over 730,000 Rohingya Muslims had fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine state to escape persecution following violence and severe human rights violations. India had refused to refuge to the fleeing Rohingyas stated that they could pose a threat to the nation’s national security and peace. However, India launched Operation Insaniyat in September 2017 to help out in their rehabilitation process by distributing necessary relief material including sugar, salt, rice, pulses, cooking oil, tea, biscuits and mosquito nets.

Why did the Rohingyas flee Myanmar?

The Rohingyas were allegedly forced to flee from western Rakhine state in Myanmar allegedly due to different types of atrocities inflicted upon them by Myanmar’s military. Myanmar’s military has been accused of killing and inflicting other types of atrocities upon the minority Muslim community, forcing them to seek refuge elsewhere. The violence is reported to have been in response to an attack on the police posts in the region. Myanmar has rejected the accusations on repeated occasions.

Following the massive refugee crisis, Myanmar leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi was stripped of several prestigious awards bestowed upon her in the past including her honorary Canadian citizenship in October 2018 and Freedom of Oxford award in November 2017 for her alleged role in the gross human rights violations against the Rohingya people.

Background

Myanmar has claimed to have taken steps in the past to enable the safe return of the Rohingya refugees camped in Bangladesh to promote peace and stability in the Rakhine state. However, the steps have not appeared to be sufficient to encourage their return. 

India and Myanmar had in fact, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on December 20, 2017 to develop Rakhine state, the region from where thousands of Rohingya Muslims had fled.

Bangladesh and Myanmar had also signed an agreement to initiate the repatriation process of the Rohingya refugees at the end of January 2018 but the deal was called off at the last minute by the Bangladesh government.

In March 2018, the United Nations reported that the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state continued even today.



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