Bangladesh and Myanmar have struck a deal for the involuntary repatriation of over 2,000 Rohingya refugees. But the agreement is rushed and threatens stability on both sides of the border. Myanmar and Bangladesh should halt the plan and instead work to create conditions conducive to a safe and dignified return.
Chair of UN-appointed Fact Finding Mission Marzuki Darusman 24 Oct briefed UN Security Council on Sept final report into rights violations in Rakhine State and other parts of Myanmar, which gave further details to back up its findings of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and possible genocide by Myanmar military, and called for removal of military leadership, restructuring of institution and end to its political role; report also rejected general economic sanctions. Darusman said thousands of Rohingya still fleeing “ongoing genocide”. Myanmar and Bangladesh officials 30 Oct agreed to start repatriation of refugees mid-Nov. EU 5 Oct announced it is considering revoking Myanmar’s access to “Everything But Arms” preferential trade scheme, which can be withdrawn in case of “serious and systematic violation” of human and labour rights; campaign groups criticised move which could seriously affect garment industry employing some 450,000 people, mostly young women from poor rural families, calling instead for expansion of targeted sanctions on individuals including Commander-in-Chief. At UN Human Rights Council late Sept, members approved resolution establishing body to consolidate evidence of crimes against Rohingya into case files linked to specific perpetrators, to pave way for future international prosecutions. Australia 23 Oct imposed sanctions on five senior military officials, aligning with U.S. and EU. Govt and representatives of ten non-State armed groups met in summit in Naypyitaw 15-16 Oct, third anniversary of signing of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement; no real progress in overcoming main issues deadlocking peace process, including military demands that armed groups accept principle of non-secession before further dialogue on federalism and security sector reform. Conflict in Kachin and Northern Shan states still eased due to monsoon season and summit, although clashes starting to increase in Northern Shan.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s government appears stuck amid international condemnation of the Rohingya's mass displacement and domestic unease about the economy. To nudge Myanmar’s post-junta transition forward, the UN should combine engagement with pressure for accountability for crimes against humanity and eventual refugee return.
More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees from brutal military operations in Myanmar are stuck in Bangladesh, with returns to Myanmar unlikely soon and Bangladeshi goodwill being tested. In Myanmar, international partners must be allowed access to northern Rakhine State. In Bangladesh, donors must help both refugees and their local hosts.
The mass flight of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s Rakhine State has created a humanitarian catastrophe and serious security risks, including potential cross-border militant attacks. The international community should press the Myanmar government to urgently implement the Annan commission’s proposals, including as regards discrimination, segregation and citizenship.
Extreme Buddhist nationalist positions including hate speech and violence are on the rise in Myanmar. Rather than ineffective bans on broad-based groups like the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion (MaBaTha), the government should address underlying causes and reframe the debate on Buddhism’s place in society and politics.
Despite important progress at the 24-29 May 2017 round of peace talks, the path toward a negotiated end to Myanmar’s conflicts remains fraught with difficulties. All sides must redouble their engagement to broaden armed groups’ participation in the talks, and improve the implementation of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
The Pope was aware that inserting himself too strongly into a situation with a lot of religious undertones could inflame tensions further in Myanmar.
[Buddhist] monks feel the [Myanmar] government is weak on the protection of Buddhism and keeping the morals of the country intact.
The [Myanmar] military and government should be careful not to assume all Rohingya are sympathizers or supporters [of jihadis].
It should be in the government’s power to create the conditions in which to implement some of these recommendations [of the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State in Myanmar].
Most [political] transitions end badly like the Arab spring. [They] are always bumpy and I think Myanmar is going through a particularly bumpy moment in its transition.
The threat is not because of [Harakah al-Yaqin's] military strength, it's because of what they represent, the potential of [Myanmar] facing a very well organized, violent jihadist movement.
Originally published in Asia Times
More than one million Muslim Rohingya forced to flee from Myanmar now live in camps in south-eastern Bangladesh. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to increase funding for refugee assistance and use diplomatic leverage to find a compromise on the issue of refugee repatriation.
Most went back home from Bangladesh in two earlier exoduses, but this time is different.
Originally published in Nikkei Asian Review
Originally published in Lowy Institute
The international community’s failure to address Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis has resulted in massive displacement from Rakhine state. The crisis poses a clear threat to Myanmar’s democratic transition. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – Third Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to support strong Security Council action and push for multilateral and bilateral engagement with Myanmar’s civilian and military leaders.