The Myanmar military has created a three-member investigative panel to probe the conduct of the armed forces during a 2017 crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine state that left thousands dead and forced more than 740,000 to flee to Bangladesh, the country’s commander-in-chief’s office announced Monday.
The campaign of violence by security forces included extrajudicial killings of Rohingya, torture, sexual assaults, and the torching of Rohingya communities, which the government and the army has denied, while defending the campaign as necessary measure to stop a group of military Muslims that conducted deadly attacks on police outposts in the region.
From de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on down, Myanmar has shrugged off credible testimony of the brutality, satellite images of burned villages, and other evidence of atrocities that have sparked calls by rights groups and United Nations officials to bring the perpetrators to justice before the International Criminal Court (ICC) or another tribunal.
Against that background, human rights groups were dismissive of the proposed investigation by a Myanmar military that they see as the chief culprit in the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya and other atrocities in the country. Earlier investigations by the military were seen by outside experts as a whitewash.
Human rights groups warned on Friday that it’s still too early for Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh to return to Myanmar where their safety is not guaranteed and they will likely continue to face repression and discrimination, calling for a freeze on repatriations set to begin in mid-November.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Myanmar and Bangladeshi governments to immediately suspend a plan to return hundreds of thousands of refugees to northern Rakhine state, arguing that they will return “to dire conditions where their lives and liberty are at risk.”
“Myanmar’s government keeps talking about returns, but it has done nothing to allay the Rohingya’s fears of being returned to the same violence and oppression they fled,” said Bill Frelick, HRW’s refugee rights director, in a statement.
“If Bangladesh moves forward on repatriations without the U.N., it will squander the international goodwill it has accrued over the past year as a host to Rohingya refugees,” he said.
Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement nearly a year ago to repatriate some of the more than 800,000 refugees who fled two brutal crackdowns by Myanmar forces in 2016 and 2017, though the program has been beset by delays.
Officials from both sides involved in a joint working group to carry out the terms of the agreement decided during meetings in Bangladesh earlier this week to begin returning refugees in mid-November, with an initial group of 2,260 Rohingya verified for return from a list of more than 8,000 refugees that was submitted to Myanmar in February.
Bangladesh selected names of refugees on its registration lists at random without consulting them to see if they wanted to return or have their personal details shared with Myanmar officials, HRW said, citing Abul Kalam, Bangladesh’s refugee relief and rehabilitation commissioner.
The Myanmar and Bangladash governments should immediately suspend the proposed repatriation of Rohingya refugees set for mid-November, Human Rights Watch said today. The expedited plan, announced on October 30, 2018, would return refugees to dire conditions in Myanmar where their lives and liberty are at risk.
“Myanmar’s government keeps talking about returns, but it has done nothing to allay the Rohingya’s fears of being returned to the same violence and oppression they fled,” said Bill Frelick , refugee rights director. “If Bangladesh moves forward on repatriations without the UN, it will squander the international goodwill it has accrued over the past year as a host to Rohingya refugees.”Bangladesh and Myanmar officials met in Dhaka on October 30 and 31, the third meeting of a joint working group to carry out a bilateral repatriation agreement signed in November 2017. Following the meeting,
As officials from Myanmar were signing a repatriation agreement in late November with Bangladesh for the return of 600,000 Rohingya refugees, the country’s military continued to burn down the refugees’ villages, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
HRW said buildings were destroyed in 40 villages in northern Rakhine state in October and November, raising the total to 354 villages that have been partially or completely destroyed since late August.
Satellite imagery confirms that dozens of buildings were burned the same week” the agreement was signed, HRW said in a statement.
“The Burmese army’s destruction of Rohingya villages within days of signing a refugee repatriation agreement with Bangladesh shows that commitments to safe returns were just a public relations stunt,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director.
“The satellite imagery shows what the Burmese army denies: that Rohingya villages continue to be destroyed. Burmese government pledges ..