Five years after the military’s “clearance operations” against the Rohingya, we, the Women’s Peace Network, recommit our support to the Rohingya community; as well as urge the international community to pursue comprehensive and concerted measures to bring justice and accountability for such victims and survivors of genocide.
We remain alarmed by Rohingya’s worsening conditions across South and Southeast Asia, to where hundreds of thousands of them were forced to flee from the 2017 attacks.
In the deteriorating conditions, trauma continues to shape the community’s path to survival: Rohingya are increasingly deprived of access to healthcare, education, and other basic needs and livelihoods; and their women and girls, survivors of a harrowing escape, remain at heightened risk of being subjected to sexual and domestic violence without access to any form of protection or recourse to justice.
Barbed-wire fences confine their movement to isolated camps, and any attempt to find their long-awaited freedom is threatened by human trafficking, detention, arrest and forced deportation to Myanmar.
Yet the Myanmar that awaits Rohingya is now further from the home that they envision. The military that perpetrated their genocide overthrew an elected government last year and is now wielding brutal tactics – many of which were used to strategically destroy the community for decades – across the entire country.
The over 600,000 Rohingya in Myanmar are at increasing risk of being subjected to further atrocities: the junta is now issuing past, discriminatory and apartheid-like policies aimed at further confining what it still calls “Bengali” in camps and prisons.
Since the attempted coup, the junta has detained and arrested over 1,475 Rohingya, including 617 women.
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Therefore, this Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day, we urge the international community to expedite its efforts to bring accountability to Myanmar by fully addressing the needs and concerns of its most vulnerable and marginalised population.
Countries must now join the International Court of Justice’s The Gambia v. Myanmar, which will now proceed as a case, against the Rohingya genocide; support universal jurisdiction to prosecute the military for its international crimes; and impose more targeted economic sanctions and financial penalties on the military and its related businesses, particularly the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.
The UN Security Council should immediately uphold its mandate – as well as the responsibility to protect women, peace and security agendas – and adopt a resolution referring the situation of Myanmar to the International Criminal Court and imposing a global arms embargo on the country.
And, as was demonstrated by the US government this year, governments must begin to officially recognise the entirety of the mass atrocities that have been committed against ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar for decades, including genocide against Rohingya. Countries that do so must also pursue rigorous and robust measures to bring justice to the many affected communities.
Holding the military accountable is fundamental to ensuring that such justice will be served, and that its victims and survivors of genocide will be there to receive it. For the latter, we call upon the international community to provide sustainable forms of material and financial assistance to the over one million Rohingya seeking rehabilitation and recovery as refugees across South and Southeast Asia.
This form of assistance must be directed to the community and members of its civil society, especially women’s groups, in a way which respects their autonomy, agency and dignity – and with the goal of securing their safe and dignified voluntary return home. – Women’s Peace Network