17 December 2018 – London – The U.N. Human Rights Council’s mandate to establish a new independent mechanism in September was a landmark moment for our fight for accountability for the crimes committed against the Burmese people, including the Rohingya. Ensuring the mechanism is now fully funded to get to work is crucial for ensuring the justice our brothers and sisters were promised can finally begin to be delivered. Accountability is also an essential precursor for safe, voluntary and dignified returns.
The mechanism – which will conduct investigations and prepare trial-ready cases – will also be particularly important for attempting to halt the ongoing abuses against the Rohingya and other minorities in Burma, which continue to this day.
The Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) is disheartened by the announcement that Leeds United football club is planning to play two matches inside of Burma. The matches will be sponsored by AYA Bank, owned by Zaw Zaw; a crony of the Burmese military who is blacklisted by the United States Government for this connection. Burma’s security forces stand accused of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya population, in parallel to intensifying human rights violations against the ethnic Kachin and Shan people.
Commenting on the announcement today BHRN’s Executive Director, Kyaw Win, said: “It is a deeply disappointing decision against the backdrop grave atrocities committed by the Burmese military. It is unthinkable that the club have decided to partner with an individual with established ties to those responsible for these atrocities. I urge Leeds United to immediately reconsider their decision – to go ahead is to be complicit in normalizing individuals and entities implicated in war crimes.
The Burma Human Rights Network has become aware of villages complaining of dire food shortages in the north of Burma's Rakhine State, following a widespread military campaign last year by the Burmese Army against the civilian population that resulted in over 600, 000 refugees fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh. Those who remained have had limited access to aid as restrictions on NGOs and charities remained in many areas following the fighting. While the Red Cross has been given access to some of these areas others remain in dire need of food and medical aid.
The intentional blocking of aid for civilians is part of what is known as the 'Four Cuts Strategy' which the Burmese armed forces are known for using in conflict. The strategy involves cutting off food, aid, information and recruitment. Typically this is carried out against the civilian population, starving them, torturing them, and devastating them to weaken public support for insurgency and denying them recruits and information.