The internal UN report by Guatemalan foreign minister and UN ambassador Gert Rosenthal said the operation, which drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh, was executed with “genocidal intent” and included mass killings, gang rapes and widespread arson.
Myanmar has denied widespread wrongdoing and said the military campaign across hundreds of villages in northern Rakhine state was in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents.
The report detailed failings by the UN and says serious errors were committed and opportunities lost due to a “fragmented strategy” following the military operations.
“The overall responsibility was of a collective character; in other words, it truly can be characterized as a systemic failure of the United Nations,” wrote Mr Rosenthal, who was appointed by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier this year to look at UN involvement in Myanmar from 2010 to 2018.
He said senior UN officials in New York could not agree on whether to take a more robust public approach with Myanmar or pursue quiet diplomacy and that conflicting reports on the situation were also sent to UN headquarters from the field.
The 15-member Security Council, which visited Myanmar’s Rakhine state last year, has been deadlocked with Myanmar allies China and Russia pitted against western states over how to deal with the situation.
When Mongabay visited after the 2017 influx, evidence of the active deforestation was everywhere. Where the refugees were not clearing space for the still-expanding camp, others were hiking hours into the rapidly disappearing forest to gather precious firewood by cutting down trees and even ripping roots from the hills.
Returning to Kutupalong a year and a half later, it is still a harsh, ravaged space, but the deforestation has slowed; its inhabitants are finding ways to survive by trying to nourish the damaged environment, often through their own small initiatives but also with the help of government planning. In April 2018, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) handed out 25,000 micro-gardening kits.
“My grandsons started growing this, it makes me happy when I come here and see it,” Hazara said, standing in front of their plots. It has made a difference, she said, by supplementing the mundane ration of lentils and rice the refugees have had to live on.
When we got here, the environment was bad, there was nothing green, nothing beautiful. But what could we do, we had to leave our own country,” said 25-year-old Hamid Hussein, as he rummaged for potatoes through the loose soil he has been growing on.
Like Hazara’s grandsons, Hussein rents the land he farms from local Bangladeshi villagers who claim it belonged to them before the Rohingya arrival in 2017. They now allow the refugees to use it for a fee of around $5 a month — a precious amount for the refugees who are not allowed to formally work.
Hussein leaves his home at sunrise to tend to this plot of land, examining the vines of the gourds he grows and looking for anything that might be ripe for harvest.
Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered an investigation after a boat carrying 65 ethnic Rohingya people and five Myanmar men was swept into the shore at Satun.Deputy government spokesman Lt Gen Weerachon Sukondhapatipak said yesterday that the prime minister wanted to know who was behind the incident after the vessel landed at Koh Rawi in Tambon Koh Sarai of Satun’s Muang district.
The premier also urged public health agencies to provide the immigrants with health check-ups as per humanitarian principles and to prevent the spread of any likely contagious diseases, he added.
National police inspector-general Pol General Suchat Theerasawat, who surveyed the boat’s route by helicopter, said police were searching for more accomplices.
Thai boat captain Sangkhom Paphan, 49, and five Myanmar men on board have been charged with bringing illegal immigrants into the country.
Police are also checking if they are part of a Rohingya people-trafficking ring.
Suchat said the Rohingya were currently being processed by the Social Development and Human Security Ministry to screen for human trafficking victims.
As there were no available interpreters, officials were looking for one to aid in the victims’ interviews, he added.
A high-ranked official source said the trafficking of the Rohingya had changed.
The Rohingya currently in Malaysia now contact a trafficking ring in Myanmar directly to transport their relatives to a third country via boat, car or train.
The syndicate then hires Thai people to take the immigrants through Thailand to their destination, the source said.
The chief of Tarutao National Marine Park, Kanjanapan Kamhaeng, said a boat carrying the Rohingya – 28 men, 31, women and five children – was discovered on Tuesday morning.
Several Thai and Myanmar citizens told park officials their ship had crashed onto rocks but initially denied they were transporting Rohingya refugees.
Mr Kanjanapan said the group is now in the custody of the Thai navy.
Scores of Rohingya Muslims have boarded boats in recent months to try to reach Malaysia, part of what authorities fear could be a new wave of people smuggling by sea after a 2015 crackdown on trafficking.
More than 700,000 Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh in 2017 fleeing an army crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, according to UN agencies.Myanmar regards Rohingya as illegal migrants from the Indian subcontinent and has confined tens of thousands to sprawling camps in Rakhine since violence swept the area in 2012.
A decade ago, when Fayazul Kalam was a teenager, he fled Myanmar for Bangladesh. By the time he turned 18, he found himself in Jammu, and six months later, at Delhi’s Kalindi Kunj Rohingya camp.
Inside a one-room house with no toilet, Kalam and his wife raised two children. The camp was beginning to feel like home, when a fire gutted 47 homes on April 15 last year.
A year on, the houses haven’t been rebuilt, and 200-plus people have built temporary homes at an adjacent plot, using bits of blankets, mattresses, wooden doors and cardboard pieces — all susceptible to fire.Salimullah (35), who lives and runs a shop there, said, “The Zakat Foundation of India (ZFI) was to build the homes, but that didn’t happen. We’ve made the structures using materials donated to us last Ramzan.”
An Asean report predicting half a million Rohingya refugees will return to Myanmar in two years has left observers incredulous for glossing over army atrocities, ignoring an ongoing civil war in Rakhine state and failing to mention the persecuted Muslim minority by name.
The leaked report, penned by the Southeast Asian bloc’s “Emergency Response and Assessment Team” (Asean-ERAT) and seen by AFP, is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
It gives a glowing assessment of Myanmar’s efforts to entice Rohingya refugees back from Bangladesh, where some 740,000 have taken shelter in fetid, overcrowded camps, reports AFP.
They joined some 300,000 others who had fled earlier waves of violence in the Southeast Asian country where they have been denied citizenship since 1982.
Claiming to root out insurgents, Myanmar’s military drove the Rohingya from Rakhine and over the border in a 2017 crackdown, the latest in several waves of persecution.
Evidence of widespread murder, rape and arson prompted UN investigators to call for the prosecution of top Myanmar generals for “genocide”.
The two countries signed a repatriation deal in November 2017 but so far virtually no Rohingya have volunteered to return out of fear for their safety and rights.
The “Preliminary Needs Assessment for Repatriation in Rakhine State, Myanmar”, works off the basis of 500,000 Rohingya returning, according to the AFP.
That is the official number of refugees given by Myanmar, well below figures from Bangladesh and the UN.
Terming the prevailing situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state complicated, Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Hiroyasu Izumi has said his country will stay beside the host country for immediate resolution into the crisis.
“Japan is beside Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue and it will continue its supports resolving the crisis,” Izumi said while addressing a press conference at his Baridhara residence in Dhaka yesterday evening.
Claiming that Myanmar Army has been fighting against the Arakan Army for nearly two years after the exodus of Rohingyas to Bangladesh, the ambassador said the overall situation in Rakhine state has become more complicated than before.
Responding to a query on whether Japan would put any pressure on Myanmar to smooth repatriation of Rohingyas, Izumi said, “Only pressure is not enough. Dialogue with Myanmar is a must to put an end to the crisis”.
About safe and dignified repatriation of Rohingyas, he said, “We will support and advocate for the implementation of Kofi Annan Commission’s report resolving the Rohingya crisis.
Earlier on June 5 and 6, Izumi along with a popular Japanese football player and Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF Japan, Makato Hasebe, visited Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
Addressing the press conference, Makato Hasebe said he was surprised to see that so many children in the refugee camps are being deprived of the rights of education.
Jaber Hossain, one of over a million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, is celebrating Eid al-Fitr in a crammed makeshift camp in Cox’s Bazar district, but he is happy to welcome the biggest festival of Islam.
“I can perform my Eid prayer here without any fear of attack, and we need not keep engaging some of our people in guarding us at the time of the Eid prayer as we had to do in Myanmar,” Hossain told Anadolu Agency.
He said while living in his homeland of Myanmar, he saw that the Azan, or call to prayer, was prohibited in most mosques by the Myanmar authorities.
“Extremist Buddhists frequently came to us, rebuked us and physically assaulted us on the way to the mosque and on the way back home after the prayer.
“Now I feel how deprived we were in Myanmar as Muslims” he said, adding practicing one’s religion here without any interruptions is a great consolation for him during Eid.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017. There are now 1.2 million Rohingyas staying in Bangladesh.
Nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces since Aug. 25, 2017, according to the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA), while more than 34,000 were thrown into fires and over 114,000 others were beaten.
The prime minister’s powerful call at the 14th OIC Summit is very appropriate—both in terms of the timing as well as the forum. And we strongly reiterate her views. Although it is not the first time that the PM has called upon the second largest international organisation to bring to bear its weight to resolve the issue, this time her call was to carry forward the Gambia-led initiative introduced in the OIC foreign ministers conference in March to hold Myanmar to account for its genocidal acts against the Rohingya minority in Rakhine. It called for taking legal recourse to establish Rohingya rights and seek justice for them by taking Myanmar to the International Court of Justice in the Hague.Given the adverse potential of the Rohingya crisis for Bangladesh and for the region, it is disheartening to note that the Rohingya issue finds no mention in the Mecca Declaration issued after the Summit. It is surprising that a million or so persecuted Rohingyas, evicted from their country, would merit no mention in the final communique. It only sends the wrong signal to Myanmar.
The prime minster proposed the ideas while delivering a keynote speech at the Nikkei Inc’s International Conference titled “The Future of Asia” at a hotel here.
The theme of the conference is “Seeking a New Global order – Overcoming the Chaos.”
Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Bin Mohamad, Cambodian Premier Hun Sen and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte also joined the conference.
While placing the ideas in front of the Asian leaders to make a better Asia, Sheikh Hasina said, “As governments, we have played our part in helping make this possible. Let me share some ideas with you for your reflection.”
In the first idea, Sheikh Hasina said today’s world is confronted with challenges and conflicts in many ways.
“So, we need to pledge to strengthen the world with greater openness, jointly address global challenges, safeguard fairness and justice and inject new impetus to cooperate using innovative ideas and measures,” she said.
The premier, in her second idea, stressed the need for partnership for economic development, saying, “Economies should take innovative practices surpassing alliances. Partnerships need to build on mutual trust and respect, common development and prosperity for a win-win strategy and to the benefit of people.”