Three years since the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya population by the Myanmar Army, parliamentarians in Southeast Asia are reiterating their calls for the Myanmar government to restore the fundamental rights of the Rohingya, and fully cooperate with international justice mechanisms.
“It’s been three years and we have seen no improvements for the people in Rakhine State, or the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh,” said Kasit Piromya, a Board Member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), and a former Thai Member of Parliament (MP). “Myanmar has still not taken any concrete steps to dismantle the discriminatory system that denies the Rohingya access to the most basic rights and guarantee the possible return of the refugees in safety and dignity.”
A UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar found that senior officials of the Myanmar military should be investigated for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for its brutal 2017 crackdown that killed thousands and caused more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee into Bangladesh. The estimated 600,000 Rohingya who still live inside Myanmar continue to be denied access to basic rights including freedom of movement, citizenship, and access to education, healthcare, and livelihoods.
Further, violence and human rights violations in Rakhine State have only continued, as a deadly conflict between the Myanmar Army and Arakan Army has intensified over the past year, displacing more than 157,000 people and killing hundreds. The COVID-19 pandemic, a telecommunications blackout, and limited access to humanitarian aid have further exacerbated the Rohingya’s vulnerabilities and affected the Rakhine population, said APHR.
“The evident lack of progress is a clear indication that ASEAN and the international community must step up their pressure on Myanmar to restore the rights of the Rohingya, ensure that they are allowed to play a central role in the discussions and decisions that impact them, and that Myanmar fully cooperates with international justice mechanisms,” added Piromya.
A first step would be for Myanmar to ensure that all communities in Myanmar, including in Rakhine State, are allowed to vote in the upcoming November general elections and have fair representation in parliament, said APHR.