In a letter to Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, the Senators called on Myanmar government to immediately end its ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya.
PTI, Washington, October 21, 2017
A bipartisan group of 21 American Senators have called for sanctions against Myanmar and suspension of military aid in the wake of more than 500,000 Rohingyas fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh due to alleged human rights violations by the security forces. In a letter to Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, the Senators called on Myanmar government to immediately end its ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya; permit safe access to Myanmar for journalists, humanitarians, and United Nations fact-finding mission personnel; and work to address the root of this conflict by affirming support for the report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The bipartisan letter by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was signed by 21 senators. The letter calls for “tangible actions against the Myanmarese government to end the violence, help the Myanmarese people, and make clear that there will be consequences for those who commit such atrocities against civilians.” The signatories of the letter include senators Todd Young, Jeff Merkley, Susan Collins, Ben Cardin, Thom Tillis, Patty Murray, Marco Rubio. The senators believe that the Myanmarese government will not take the steps without significant international pressure. They have urged Haley to work to suspend all international military weapons’ transfers to the Myanmar’s military and to impose strong multilateral sanctions against specific senior military officials associated with the gross human rights abuses.
“We also ask that you request the United Nations to launch an investigation to document human rights abuses that will facilitate holding perpetrators in the Myanmarese government and its security forces accountable,” the letter said. “To accomplish these objectives, we encourage you and Secretary General Guterres to travel to Myanmar and Bangladesh to bring attention to this crisis. We also ask you to push for a strong United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,” it said. Early this week, a bipartisan group of as many as 41 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter yesterday to the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling on the United States to take significant actions to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas in Myanmar. In the letter, lawmakers asked the US take further diplomatic steps to bring the persecution of the Rohingya people to an end by declining to grant any visas to members of Myanmar’s security services until humanitarian access is granted to those displaced in Myanmar.
They also urged the Secretary of State to utilise existing sanctions laws with respect to those engaged in human rights abuses, and encouraging countries to suspend arms sales to Myanmar. The letter also urges the Trump administration to support the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State that carried out a year-long study into conflict in the area. “We ask that you take meaningful steps with respect to the Myanmarese military and other entities engaged in abuses,” the lawmakers said. “At a minimum, we trust that you will suspend all waivers of visa ineligibilities pursuant to the Block Burmese Jade Act until the military allows unfettered humanitarian access to internally displaced persons in northern Rakhine State,” they said.
Nearly 590,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh,
children threatened by diseases: UN
UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) — Nearly 590,000 Rohingya refugees have been admitted to camps in Bangladesh and 320,000 refugee children among them are threatened by water-borne diseases and desperate living conditions, a UN spokesman said Friday.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 589,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State since alleged retaliation following a deadly rebel militia attack on Aug. 25 against police posts, said Farhan Haq, the UN spokesman.
Just over half of the new arrivals in Bangladesh are staying in Kutupalong Expansion, he said. It was described as a single large site where aid partners are working with authorities to improve road access, infrastructure and basic services.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said nearly 7,000 of the refugees had been admitted to Bangladesh after spending up to four days stranded near the border. “Thousands more are believed to be on their way from Myanmar.”
The most vulnerable among the new arrivals are taken by bus from the border to a transit center, where the UNHCR and its partners provide food, water, medical checks and temporary shelter, Haq said.
The UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) said that desperate living conditions and water-borne diseases are threatening more than 320,000 Rohingya refugee children, he said.
A new report by the agency said most of the refugees are living in overcrowded and unsanitary makeshift settlements.
Despite an expanding international aid effort led by the government of Bangladesh, the report said that the essential needs of many children are not being met, the spokesman said. “UNICEF is also calling for an end to the atrocities targeting civilians in Rakhine State, as well as for humanitarian actors to be given immediate and unfettered access.”
A pledging conference for donors next Monday in Geneva was announced earlier this week. Officials said they hope to raise 434 million U.S. dollars to aid Rohingya refugees and their hosts, some 11.2 million people in all. So far it is only 26 percent funded.
UN special advisers call for stopping ‘atrocities’ in Rakhine
India Today, UN press release
In a press conference, UN’s Special Advisers have urged Myanmar to take immediate action on the atrocities committed against Rohingya muslims in Rakhine.
October 21, 2017
The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng and the Special Adviser of the Responsibility to Protect, Ivan Simonovic, called on Myanmar government to take immediate action to stop and address the commission of atrocity crimes that are reportedly taking place in northern Rakhine state.
A official press release of UN on Friday said that, The UN special advisers have been following the situation in northern Rakhine state for several years and have warned that there was a risk that atrocity crimes could be committed there.
Risk factors identified by them included very deeply rooted and long-standing discriminatory practices and policies against the Rohingya Muslims population, a failure to stop acts of violence against that group and a failure to put in place conditions that would support the peaceful co-existence of different communities in Rakhine state.
“Despite warnings issued by us and by many other officials, the Myanmar government has failed to meet its obligations under international law and primary responsibility to protect the Rohingya population from atrocity crimes. The international community has equally failed its responsibilities in this regard”, the special advisers stated.
The Special Advisers welcomed recommendations presented by United Nations Security Council Members during an Arria formula meeting on Myanmar on 13 October and urged for an immediate end to the violence in northern Rakhine state, full humanitarian access and the safe, dignified and voluntary return of refugees to their homes.
In addition, they highlighted the importance of allowing the Human Rights Council independent international fact-finding mission to access northern Rakhine state to ascertain the veracity of the facts.
A recent report by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights describes vicious, well-organised, coordinated and systematic attacks by Myanmar security forces, often in partnership with armed Rakhine Buddhist individuals against thousands of civilian Rohingya, committed with intent to drive that population out of Myanmar and prevent them from returning to their homes.
These acts are reported to be in response to attacks by militants on 25 August 2017 against Myanmar police posts and a regimental headquarters. United Nations sources indicate that more than 530,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since then.
HINDU CIVILIAN DISPLACED FROM RAKHINE
According to the statement the UN special advisers claim that, a few thousand Buddhist and Hindu civilians are also reported to be displaced while fleeing attacks by militants.
“Once again, our failure to stop atrocity crimes makes us complicit. When will we live up to our countless promises of ‘never again’?” the Special Advisers asked.
They emphasized that those implicated in the commission of atrocity crimes must be held accountable, whatever their status.
TO IMPLEMENT THE ‘ANAN COMMISION’ RECOMMENDATION
During the discussions at the Security Council, the Special Advisers were encouraged by what seems to be a consensus among the membership of the Council and the Government of Myanmar to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, headed by Kofi Annan.
They acknowledged as positive the appointment by the Myanmar Government of a ministerial committee to follow up on these recommendations.
However, the Special Advisers noted, “True commitment will come with implementation. Any further delay in implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Commission, including on issues of citizenship, will mean further violence and destabilization for the region.”
They also urged the international community to support the Myanmar Government in this regard.
Finally, the Special Advisors urged the Government of Myanmar to work towards a national identity in which all populations of Myanmar, including those that identify themselves as Rohingya, feel part of.
“Peace and development in Myanmar will only come with unity and peaceful coexistence of all populations”, the Special Advisers concluded.
UN Migration chief urges more support for Rohingyas
UNITED NATIONS NEWS ON OCTOBER 20, 2017
The United Nations migration agency and its partners are supporting Bangladesh in coordinating assistance for the influx of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees, including with clean water and sanitation, shelter, food and psychosocial care for the most vulnerable.
“The world has rarely witnessed a refugee crisis of such speed, with more than half a million crossing into Bangladesh in just over a month,” said William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), on Wednesday, as he completed a three-day visit to Bangladesh.
“The arc of misery that exists between Northern Rakhine state and Cox’s Bazar is deeply upsetting—too many people suffering desperately with too little support,” he said, adding that just two days ago, some 1,500 more Rohingya refugees waded through a river as monsoon rains drenched the country.
The Bangladesh Government has confirmed that it will move an estimated 15,000 people currently stranded in a so-called “no man’s land” near the Anjuman Para border crossing point in Cox’s Bazar’s Ukhia District, into more appropriate settlement areas.
Director General Swing began his visit with a daylong tour of the makeshift settlements in Ukhia and Teknaf sub-districts, where an estimated 800,000 refugees are now living, to observe the scale of the crisis and the sheer enormity of needs.
“I saw women carrying small babies, only a few days old, sometimes born while their young mothers were fleeing deadly violence in torrential rains. I saw young children, who had lost not just their parents, but any remnants of hope,” Mr. Swing stated.
He called for global commitment to these women and children, who are among the most vulnerable in the world, to do everything possible to ensure that their suffering stops here. “If adequate resources are not mobilized by the international community, we cannot make that commitment. Thousands will suffer without food, shelter, health care and protection,” he emphasized.
Based on the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State established by Myanmar’s Office of the State Counselor and the Kofi Annan Foundation, the Director General highlighted the critical importance of a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
“Humanitarian aid alone is not a solution. The root causes of this crisis are in Myanmar and there can be no lasting peace in Rakhine without inclusive development,” he said, pointing to the recommendations as a roadmap to peaceful co-existence and welcoming the Myanmar Government’s commitment to implementing the Commission’s findings.
“The first step in that implementation process will be to urgently allow UN agencies to resume their work in Rakhine state,” Mr. Swing said.
Since late August, IOM has scaled up quickly, providing: shelter to 379,000 people; health consultations to 47,000 individuals; over 11,000 dignity kits; 678,000 litres of water; and 200 staff to assist the Health Ministry in vaccinating 679,000 people against cholera. IOM staffing has also been boosted with 443 staff and in-country volunteers.
UN panel ready to hold Myanmar to account over Rohingya crisis
October 21, 2017
Myanmar is staring down the barrel of its first UN “accountability phase” — triggering sanctions, Security Council action or referral to the International Criminal Court.
A three-person UN panel that includes former Australian human rights commissioner Chris Sidoti begins its probe into human rights abuses next week.
Panel chairman Marzuki Darusman said its report to the UN Human Rights Council next September would be the “high point” in a series of UN investigations that have detailed allegations of arson, mass killings and rapes of Rohingya Muslims and concluded the Myanmar military is pursuing a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the minority population.
The former Indonesia attorney-general, who has worked on UN inquiries into the assassination of former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto and war crimes in Sri Lanka, said his team would establish facts and a “pattern of events” since 2012 when tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine state led to deadly riots and the internment of 120,000 Rohingya.
It would focus on Rakhine but also look at other ethnic conflicts in Myanmar where displaced communities have made similar allegations against the military.
“The Human Rights Council will then reach a point where it may legitimately say we are now going into an accountability phase, which has never been the case for the last 20 years for Myanmar,” he told The Weekend Australian.
“That opens up a whole host of other actions that would engage the UN system as a whole. It could lead to the ICC, it could lead to the Security Council, it could lead to sanctions being taken. That would be the new base point for the council to move forward.”
Mr Darusman, Mr Sidoti and Sri Lankan lawyer Radhika Coomaraswamy will travel to refugee camps in Bangladesh next week. They plan to gather testimony from Rohingya refugees in Malaysia and, ultimately, visit Myanmar. Mr Darusman cautioned Myanmar authorities against blocking his investigators from violence-affected areas in Rakhine and other parts of the Buddhist-majority country.
If it did there was 20 years of accumulated UN human rights reports “just waiting to be sorted out and made sense of”. “This should be known by the government; that if we are in the process of making sense of information available then it would be in their interests to influence that process. The only way to is to engage with the fact finding mission,” he said.
This week refugees crossing into Bangladesh reached 600,000 — eight weeks after Rohingya militant attacks on security posts sparked the most brutal military crackdown on Muslim civilians in generations. Thousands say they fled hunger, as the army and Buddhists closed markets and barred Muslims from harvesting.
Mr Darusman praised the work of the special rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights whose most recent report last week alleged the Myanmar military was pursuing a strategy to “instil deep and widespread fear and trauma” among the Rohingya population.
But Mr Darusman said his team would be “led by the facts and not by prevailing opinions, however strong they are”. The reputation of Myanmar’s defacto leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has unravelled over her government’s handling of the crisis, which has included expelling all international media and aid agencies except the Red Cross.
Ms Suu Kyi has insisted all military operations in Rakhine ended on September 5 — despite strong evidence to the contrary — and professed not to understand why Rohingya are still fleeing Rakhine. The comments have sparked derision, but Mr Darusman said it was possible the State Counsellor had been kept “in the dark about what was happening”.