Last week, the UN International Fact-Finding Mission in Myanmar (FFM) urged the international community to pressure Myanmarese authorities to take direct action in the Rohingya crisis as widespread human rights abuses and overcrowded refugee camps continue to plague the community. Myanmar’s carelessness faced sharp criticism by FFM Chairperson Marzuki Darusman arguing that “the situation is a total standstill… there has been no movement toward a resolution of the crisis”, calling for Myanmarese commanders to claim accountability and state authorities to acknowledge the diversity in the Rakhine State, stating ‘any solutions should directly address the structural problems [referring to government institutions hindering minorities]’.
FFM’s September report highlights the military’s ‘clearance operations’ in 2017, in which Rohingya civilians were systemically killed, raped and subsequently decimated along with the razing of villages forcing 700,000 Rohingya refugees to flee to Bangladesh. Myanmarese authorities continue to deny responsibility whilst undertaking massive operations to bulldoze abandoned villages and destroying any other forms of evidence. Darusman calls out the Myanmarese government to admit responsibility and hand in those accountable. Furthermore, he urges the international community to support the ever-increasing demand in Bangladesh’s refugee camps as limited supplies and the upcoming Monsoon season (May/June) puts hundreds and thousands of people at risk of disease outbreaks and continued suffering.
FFM experts are currently performing on-the-ground investigations on atrocities committed by Myanmarese commanders, with increasing evidence suggesting other ethnic groups are facing continued oppression within its borders as well. Additional organizations are also investigating into the crisis, with the International Criminal Court suggesting the actions are on par to genocide. Both organisations urge others to exercise real jurisdiction and prosecute perpetrators.
In response to recent events, Al-Jazeera reports that the EU has banned armed sales to Myanmar until April 30, 2020; issuing a statement that the sanctions include an embargo on arms, military equipment, dual-use goods and military communications – all of which can be used for internal repression. Furthermore, the EU will continue to refuse to cooperate with the Myanmarese military, in hopes of pressuring officials to take immediate action. Bangladesh’s News Website Bdnews24 reported this week that China’s foreign minister Zhang Zuo is “asserting that China [is] willing to play a constructive role for reparation of displaced people and will facilitate communication between Bangladesh and Myanmar to find a practical solution of the crisis”. With China previously acting as a stumbling block using its veto power preventing collective action within the UN Security Council, this new posture creates huge leaps in resolving the crisis. Accommodating and developing a national plan for the hundreds of thousands of displaced people within and outside Myanmar’s borders is crucial to ensuring a lasting peace within South Asia.
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