The head of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, Marzuki Darusman, told the General Assembly last week, that Myanmar is failing in its obligations under the Genocide Convention to prevent, to investigate and to enact effective legislation criminalising and punishing genocide.
Mr. Darusman on wednesday while addressing told that the findings are based on the policies, laws, individuals and institutions that laid the groundwork for the brutal “clearance operations” in 2016 and 2017 remain intact and strong. He also said the Mission found that crimes under international law, which were reported on last year, continue to be committed by Myanmar’s military, called the Tatmadaw, throughout the country, impacting Myanmar’s ethnic communities. Serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law have been committed in the context of the continuing conflict between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army in Rakhine State. “This confirms our previous conclusion that the cycle of impunity enables, and indeed fuels, this reprehensible conduct on the part of the security forces,” he said.
The harsh persecution of the Rohingya community in Myanmar continues unabated in defiance of the international community. The treatment of some 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Rakhine State hasn’t changed. Their situation has worsened, as they endure another year subjected to discrimination, segregation, movement restrictions and insecurity, without adequate access to livelihoods, land, basic services, including education and health care, or justice for past crimes committed against them. This makes the return to Rakhine State of close to one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh simply impossible, Mr. Darusman said.
Mr. Darusman took the opportunity of the Fact-Finding Mission’s final report to call on Member States to remain vigilant. He said Myanmar had failed in its obligation to protect its people, making it all the more important that the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and the Security Council act to stop continued violations and prevent their re-occurrence. He asked Member States to prioritise the three areas.
•First, he asked Member States to continue to authorise, through the Human Rights Council with the support of the General Assembly, public reporting mandates including the independent monitoring of the implementation of all the Fact-Finding Mission’s recommendations.
•Secondly, he urged the members to continue their pursuance of accountability as on the part of Burmese government a clear “accountability deficit “ has been noticed. Alternative mechanisms are to be availed if needed.
•Finally, he reiterated the Mission’s previous calls for financial and political disengagement from Myanmar’s military to help deter human rights violations. He asked the General Assembly to consider endorsing disengagement, while recommending targeted sanctions and an arms embargo by the Security Council.
These measures are required as “the human rights catastrophe in Myanmar has not ended,” Mr. Darusman said. He concluded that the hundreds of thousands of victims rightfully expect no less than the continued commitment by the international community to accountability and justice.
INDIA’S TREATMENT OF ROHINGYAS
The majority of India’s Rohingya came to India either before 2012 or following the 2017 genocide. In the beginning Bangladesh was reluctant to welcome refugees, so India appeared to offer great promise.
At first, most of them went to Bangladesh first, but with little or very bad job opportunities and the government’s unwillingness to support like it supports the refugees now, people tried to enter India as there were better economic opportunities.
Unfortunately for many, upon arrival, those opportunities proved to be illusory. Still, they found India more peaceful and welcoming than Bangladesh. Although living conditions remained challenging and job opportunities scarce, the government did little to prevent refugees from pursuing better futures. At the time, more refugee children were allowed to attend school, and some areas even offered basic assistance.
Since those years, however, attitude towards minorities – particularly Muslims – have shifted dramatically in India, devastating the livelihoods and prospects of many Rohingya families living here.
Modi’s government made short work of vilifying Muslims and particularly Rohingya, recasting them as terrorists and “illegal Bengalis” (just like the Myanmar authorities do). The BJP has characterised Muslim refugees in India as threats to the very fabric of Indian society and used them as a tool to draw the country’s Hindu majority into their far-right movement.
Indeed, over less than a decade, the Hindu-nationalist government and its supporters succeeded in drastically eroding many of the most fundamental human rights of the Rohingya refugees, including access to work, education, shelter, sanitation, healthcare, and basic human dignity, among others.
In January this year, Indian authorities ceased to recognise the UNHCR-issued refugee cards of Rohingya, effectively taking away the little amount of legal protection some 18,000 registered Rohingya refugees had in the country. At the moment, virtually all activities and services (including education, work, and healthcare) require a residency-based Aadhar card. According to Rohingya advocates and refugees, these were previously issued to some Rohingya who met the government’s criteria, but this practice has since ceased.
Rohingya also face increased surveillance, at times going as far as harassment, with officials repeatedly collecting biodata, fingerprints, and paperwork. In areas where the police are most hostile – like Jammu and Haryana – refugees fleeing to other parts of the country or to Bangladesh report extortion, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and beatings are also on the rise.