Statement

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/formyanm/public_html/bhrn.org.uk/en/components/com_edocman/helper/file.class.php on line 232

ASEAN Civil Societies and Rohingya Organisations Issue A Joint Statement on ASEAN – ERAT Preliminary Needs Assessment for Repatriation in Rakhine State, Myanmar


In response to the recent leaked report from ASEAN’s Emergency Response and Action Team (ERAT), a ‘preliminary needs assessment’ which drastically overestimated the ease and equity with which Rohingya can return to Burma, we (Civil Societies from ASEAN and Rohingya Organisations) call upon leaders and representatives from ASEAN nations to insist upon re-evaluation, re-planning, and work towards implementation of a just and safe plan for the Rohingya.


The report at times reads more as if it is designed to please the Government of Myanmar than a product from members of a reputable institution. There is no mention of the well documented genocide perpetrated by the Myanmar security forces that drove 740, 000 Rohingya to Bangladesh in 2017. There is no mention of rape, murder, torture, killing of children and the burning of homes. There is no mention of the hundreds of villages burnt as documented in satellite images by HRW and the UN, as well as from first person accounts. Instead, the report consists of a summary of the technical details of the return process with some minor technical recommendations. Myanmar appears to want to create a new narrative that the conflict was inter-ethnic, that they are ready to accept returnees, conditions are conducive to do so, and that the only obstacle for return is Bangladesh. It seems as if the report was done to help ASEAN member countries to ignore the hurt, pain, harm, loss of lives, loss of dignity caused to the Rohinyga people. This is an erasure of facts. Those agreeing with the report, including ASEAN member countries, will be complicit in this lie. This report will become the cornerstone of the Government of Myanmar’s stance. We say that ASEAN’s credibility is on the line unless they reject the report and distance themselves from it.


These are the facts: approximately 87, 000 Rohingya fled after 9th October 2016; a further 740, 000 fled after 25th August 2017; a total of 827, 000 refugees landed in Bangladesh; and today there are approximately 1.2 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Yet this report cites 500, 000. We ask where this figure come from and what is the source.


The report also makes the false premise that the conflict was inter-ethnic. Most blatantly, there is no mention of Tatmadaw’s disproportionate ‘clearance operations’ or allegations and findings of genocide. While the Border Guard Police (BGP) were responsible for violence in 2017, the report claims that villagers feel safer with high BGP security presence. The report says contrary to common perceptions, ‘The local community actually felt safe with the presence of Border Guard Police (BGP).’ Still in Maungdaw Township and other villages Rohingya and Rakhines work and socialize together, contradicting the assessment team’s simplistic, government informed views that the perceived threats are between communities rather than between security forces and civilians. There is an omission of the fact that the inclusion of border guard police in transit camp management structure heightened fear and risks of abuses against a vulnerable population. Recent events such as security forces firing upon civilians in central and northern Rakhine, clearly, show that security forces pose a greater threat to communities more so than just a just “inconvenient” security.


At the same time, there has been an intense ongoing conflict between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw throughout Rakhine with over 100 clashes since January 2019 and over 30, 000 people displaced. This means that any repatriation is unfeasible, but the assessment team chose to omit the fear the Rohingyas are feeling, in the report.


The report also fails to address policies and laws which violate the Rohingya’s fundamental human rights and jeopardize the viability of their return. The report does not address the lack of freedom of movement – people have to possess the right ID card. This card is related to the collection of Biometric Data which is not collected from any other ethnic group in the country. Rohingyas are justifiably suspicious of this, even if the assessment team does not recognise this in the report. For instance, there is the risk this data can be abused by the Government of Myanmar in the future to identify Rohingya who have moved and so transport them back to live only in Rakhine. There is no reference to the fact that the Citizenship Law must be changed based on the report from the Kofi Annan led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. Relocation is condoned and there is no mention of the area or land, apriority issue for Rohingya. In addition, the report does not raise access to humanitarian aid, media and international community as these are concern of the Rohingyas.


It is not clear where Relocation Sites will be but according to the plans, they will result in very large villages that will have a problem accessing services and livelihoods especially as most returnees will be paddy farmers. This would mean serious barriers to accessing services and livelihoods. This problem is compounded by the fact that returnees will be resettled in areas away from their original village and cannot access other fields.


When combined, these issues suggest an internment for the Rohingya rather than ‘transit’ camps. We have seen this play out and it continues to this day in central Rakhine State. The underlying unaddressed omission is the fact that it is extremely unlikely that a large number of people will be returning from Bangladesh without significant changes in the situation in Rakhine State. This report deals only with the technical details for an assessment, ignoring the people, their fears, a review of the ‘transit plans’, the administrative processes and accessibility for the Rohingyas. In other words, this report has failed to include crucial facts, ignored the human rights and humanitarian rights of the Rohingyas. It is a propaganda to make the Government of Myanmar look better, that it has plans and setting the stage for any failure of the plans as the fault of the Rohingya and the government of Bangladesh, that is currently carrying this problem for the people.


We say:

  1. for the credibility of ASEAN this report should be rejected and not endorsed. If a future comprehensive assessment is agreed upon in it must be in collaboration with UN experts who have the requisite expertise and neutrality.
  2. leaders of ASEAN nations must insist that these issues are raised and addressed by the AHA Centre in order to ensure that the Rohingya can be returned to Burma in a way which is humane and just.
  3. leaders of ASEAN nations must also insist that the Rohingya still living in Burma including 128, 000 in IDP camps must have their rights, including citizenship and freedom of movement, restored and protected before plans to relocate the refugee population can begin.
  4. the safety, rights, and dignity of the returned are essential to the viability and longevity of the endeavour of returning Rohingya. Moving forward without these aspects as considerations is unethical, wasteful, and will ultimately leave all stakeholders addressing the same problems down the line as history will repeat itself if not addressed well, now.

If Myanmar ejects addressing these calls, they prove only that they have no interest in solving the problems which their security forces have created, often at the expense of other ASEAN and South Asian nations. It is our sincerest hope that all parties will take the time to come together and re-evaluate moving forward to resolve these issues in a way which considers the safety, rights and dignity of those most affected while taking the time to listen to them directly.


This statement is undersigned by:

  1. ALTSEAN-Burma
  2. Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM)
  3. Arakan Rohingya Development Association-Australia (ARDA-Australia)
  4. Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO)
  5. Burmese Muslim Association (BMA)
  6. British Rohingya Community UK
  7. Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
  8. Burmese Rohingya Association Japan
  9. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK)
  10. Canadian Burmese Rohingya Organisations (CBRO)
  11. Central Queensland Rohingya Community
  12. Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (CENTHRA)
  13. European Rohingya Council (ERC)
  14. Global Peace Mission Malaysia
  15. Initiative for Human Rights in Asia
  16. Komite Nesional Untuk Solidaritas Rohingya (KNSR)
  17. MARUAH (Singapore)
  18. Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia (MERHROM)
  19. Rohingya Advocacy Network in Japan (RANJ)
  20. Rohingya Intellectuals Community Association Australia (RICAA)
  21. Rohingya Society in Malaysia (RSM)
  22. Rohingya Women Welfare Society (RWWS)
  23. Wadah Pencerdasan Umat Malaysia

  24. Media Contact

    Kyaw Win
    Executive Director
    Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
    E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    T: +44(0) 740 345 2378
    Razia Sultana
    Founder
    Rohingya Women Welfare Soceity (RWWS)
    E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    T: +880 1818 4666078
    Tun Khin
    President
    Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK)
    E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    T: +44 7376 823227

    BHRN's Joint Statement PDF

    Download (201.85 KB)

World News About Burma

  • Gambia files Rohingya genocide case against Myanmar at World Court: justice minister
  • Rohingya should be citizens or be given their own state, says Dr M
  • Rohingya urge UN rights expert to intercede with Thai officials
  • Rohingya girl makes emotional plea to UN refugee chief
  • Oral statement by Ms Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council
  • Life for Rohingya women, the real and hidden crisis
  • Rohingya crisis: Bangladesh says it will not accept any more Myanmar refugees
  • Asia Investors Split With West Over Myanmar's Rohingya Crackdown
  • Rohingya Repatriation: Doubt lingers as conflict flares up in Myanmar
  • Silently, Burma is now expelling Rohingyas from its detention camps
  • Myanmar orders Rohingya to leave tense border zone
  • As the monsoons approach, the Rohingya refugees are desperate for hope
  • Humanitarian access worsening in Myanmar: UN official
  • Too many are looking away from Burma’s ethnic cleansing campaign
  • Amal Clooney to represent two Reuters journalists detained in Myanm
  • Burmese soldiers accused of escalating violence against northern minorities
  • U.N. chief 'shocked' by top Myanmar general's comments on Rohingya
  • Lawmakers call for pressure on Myanmar over Pyongyang ties
  • Australia condemns Myanmar violence and says offenders 'must be held to account'
  • UN genocide adviser: Indications Myanmar cleansing Rohingyas
  • Myanmar urged not to drag out case against Reuters reporters
  • Myanmar building military bases over Rohingya villages: Amnesty
  • I Saw a Genocide in Slow Motion
  • Former Rohingya MP, Aung Zaw Win, arrested in Myanmar
  • Rohingya demand help as Rakhine atrocities continue
  • The Genocide the U.S. Didn’t See Coming
  • MP calls for Aung San Suu Kyi to be stripped of Freedom of Dundee
  • Myanmar must take back Rohingyas with dignity: Lisa Curtis
  • Lisa Curtis: US will work towards the safe return of Rohingya
  • Gambia files Rohingya genocide case against Myanmar at World Court: justice minister

    THE HAGUE (Reuters)
    More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since a 2017 crackdown by Myanmar’s military, which U.N. investigators say was carried out with “genocidal intent”. Buddhist majority Myanmar denies accusations of genocide.

    Gambia, a tiny, mainly Muslim West African nation, lodged its lawsuit after winning the support of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which has 57 member states. Only a state can file a case against another state at the ICJ.

    “The aim is to get Myanmar to account for its action against its own people: the Rohingya”, Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou told a news conference in The Hague, where the U.N. court is based.

    https://www.reuters.com/


  • Rohingya should be citizens or be given their own state, says Dr M

    KUALA LUMPUR:
    The Rohingya should be treated as Myanmar nationals or be given a chance to form their own state, said Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

    He said even though Malaysia generally does not wish to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, it does so in this case due to the massacre or genocide that is happening in Myanmar.

    “Myanmar, of course, at one time was made up of many different states . . .

    www.freemalaysiatoday.com


  • Rohingya urge UN rights expert to intercede with Thai officials

    The Rohingya community in Thailand on Saturday urged visiting United Nations human rights expert Yanghee Lee to help improve their lot, as thousands of them in Myanmar have no legal status while many are still under detention.

    Thousands of Rohingya have fled their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state to seek better lives in Thailand for decades but the Thai authorities have not granted them any legal status on the grounds that they are stateless people . . . .

    news.thaivisa.com


  • Rohingya girl makes emotional plea to UN refugee chief

    A Rohingya girl recently wrote an emotional letter to a UN high official seeking the organization’s help in protecting tens of thousands of Rohingya children living in crowded makeshift camps in Bangladesh.

    “They have nowhere to go. They have no place to call home. They have no proper clothes on their bodies. They have no shoes under their feet. They have no books to read. They have no schools to go (to),” Jamalida Rafique, who now lives in Ireland, wrote to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi.. . . . .

    www.yenisafak.com


  • Oral statement by Ms Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council

    I am honoured to once again present my report to this Council on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. I have pointed out positive developments in Myanmar, as I have always done in the past, but sadly, more negative developments have emerged during the last reporting period. I take this opportunity now to provide some updates on issues raised in my report as well as to draw attention to some concerning new developments. For the sake of time, I will not repeat what I have said in my report. . . . .

    www.ohchr.org


  • Life for Rohingya women, the real and hidden crisis

    It is now 18 months since the plight of the Rohingya hit the headlines, when the mass exodus of people from Myanmar peaked following an escalation in violence. Since August 2017, more than 706,000 people, mostly women and children, have fled for safety across the border into Bangladesh. Many had seen family members killed, have been shot, suffered burns or are survivors of sexual violence. . . .

    The real and hidden crisis, during and in the aftermath of any conflict, displacement or natural disaster, is that women and girls are disproportionately exposed to sexual violence, increased loss of livelihoods and even their lives. After fleeing violence and discrimination in Myanmar these women and girls are now struggling to cope with the loss and trauma they have experienced, to stay safe in the camps and for basic survival . . .

    www.independent.co.uk


  • Rohingya crisis: Bangladesh says it will not accept any more Myanmar refugees

    Bangladesh has told the UN it cannot accept any more refugees from Myanmar, the first time the country has threatened to close its borders to Rohingya fleeing violence.

    Bangladesh is now sheltering more than a million Myanmar refugees in camps, some 700,000 of whom have poured over the border in the past 18 months having fled a military-led crackdown in Rakhine state where thousands were killed, women were raped and villages razed.. . . .

    www.theguardian.com


  • Asia Investors Split With West Over Myanmar's Rohingya Crackdown

    In a vast convention center in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s sprawling and eerily empty capital, prospective investors listened politely as local companies pitched opportunities and government officials spoke of the country’s vast economic potential.

    Yet in the hallways, conversations drifted toward one topic: A military-led crackdown that drove more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from the country, prompting allegations of genocide and threats of renewed economic penalties from the U.S. and European Union. . . .

    www.bloomberg.com


  • Rohingya Repatriation: Doubt lingers as conflict flares up in Myanmar

    Uncertainty over Rohingya repatriation is likely to stay as conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army in Rakhine has escalated since early January, say experts.

    The situation poses challenges for Bangladesh in handling the one million refugees in Cox's Bazar, especially as tension between the host communities and the Rohingyas, and the risk of Rohingya radicalisation are rising, amid a fund shortage.. . . . .

    www.thedailystar.net


  • Silently, Burma is now expelling Rohingyas from its detention camps

    Over 700,000 Rohingya have been forcibly expelled from their ancestral lands in that country by a volatile mix of military aggression and religious persecution, with the country's government largely turning a blind eye or worse.

    State-sponsored violence has led to a massive exodus of the Rohingya from the country, a great human wave of refugees who have no choice but to flee for their lives before the onslaught . . . .

    www.washingtonexaminer.com


  • Myanmar orders Rohingya to leave tense border zone

    TOMBRU, Bangladesh: Myanmar security forces have resumed loudspeaker broadcasts near its border with Bangladesh ordering Rohingya Muslims to immediately leave a strip of no-man's land between the two countries, refugees said on Sunday (May 20).

    Around 6,000 refugees from the persecuted minority have been camping on the narrow stretch of land since fleeing a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar's west last August . . . .

    www.channelnewsasia.com


  • As the monsoons approach, the Rohingya refugees are desperate for hope

    Exhausted parents dragging toddlers through water and mud, babies carried in the arms of siblings little older than themselves, and horrifyingly tiny graves of children who did not survive the journey.

    This is the confronting scene we witnessed in January at the Rohingya refugee settlements surrounding Cox’s Bazar on our visit to South-East Bangladesh as co-chairs of the parliamentary friends of Unicef.. . . .

    www.theguardian.com


  • Humanitarian access worsening in Myanmar: UN official

    Ursula Mueller, assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator, concluded her six-day mission to the country on Sunday. She visited several conflict-torn ethnic areas of Myanmar including western Rakhine state, northern Kachin state and northeastern Shan state.

    “When you cut that humanitarian lifeline, there is a very real human impact,” she said. . . .

    www.aa.com.tr


  • Too many are looking away from Burma’s ethnic cleansing campaign

    The writers insist that Buddhists must speak out about atrocities against the Rohingya, no matter how painful. “Like many around the world, we have been horrified by reports of widespread atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces ,” the letter says. “These have included mass rape, arson, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings that had included the sadistic murder and torture of young Rohingya children and infants . . .

    www.washingtonpost.com


  • Amal Clooney to represent two Reuters journalists detained in Myanm

    Prominent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has joined the legal team representing two Reuters journalists detained in Myanmar. A court in Yangon has been holding preliminary hearings since January to decide whether Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, will be charged under the colonial-era Officials Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison . . .

    www.reuters.com


  • Burmese soldiers accused of escalating violence against northern minorities

    Human rights atrocities and potential war crimes have been stepped up against other Burmese minorities while the world has been distracted by the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, a new United Nations report has revealed . . .

    www.telegraph.co.uk


  • U.N. chief 'shocked' by top Myanmar general's comments on Rohingya

    U.N. chief Guterres said in a statement on Monday he was “shocked” at the comments, and urged “all leaders in Myanmar to take a unified stance against incitement to hatred and to promote communal harmony”. . .

    www.reuters.com


  • Lawmakers call for pressure on Myanmar over Pyongyang ties

    WASHINGTON >> The Trump administration has slapped sanctions on companies across the globe to punish illicit trade with nuclear-armed North Korea, yet Myanmar, which is suspected of acquiring ballistic missile systems from the pariah state, has escaped the full force of the “maximum pressure” campaign . . .

    www.news-herald.com


  • Australia condemns Myanmar violence and says offenders 'must be held to account'

    Australia has told Myanmar that international observers must be allowed into the isolated Rakhine state to monitor the situation of Rohingya still living there, and to supervise the return of any of those who have fled and wish to come back. . .

    www.theguardian.com


  • UN genocide adviser: Indications Myanmar cleansing Rohingyas

    UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. adviser on preventing genocide said Tuesday that all information he has received indicates the Myanmar government intended to get rid of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state and possibly even destroy them “which, if proven, would constitute the crime of genocide”. . .

    www.washingtonpost.com


  • Myanmar urged not to drag out case against Reuters reporters

    YANGON (Reuters) - Some international observers urged Myanmar on Wednesday not to drag out legal proceedings against two Reuters journalists, as they appeared in court for the 10th time since they were arrested in December and accused of possessing secret government papers . . .

    uk.reuters.com


  • Myanmar building military bases over Rohingya villages: Amnesty

    Security forces have bulldozed houses and started constructing at least three new security facilities in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, said Amnesty International's Remaking Rakhine State report, which was published on Monday . . .

    www.aljazeera.com


  • I Saw a Genocide in Slow Motion

    Sometimes Myanmar uses guns and machetes for ethnic cleansing, and that’s how Sono Wara earlier lost her mother and sister. But it also kills more subtly and secretly by regularly denying medical care and blocking humanitarian aid to Rohingya, and that’s why her twins are gone . . .

    www.nytimes.com


  • Former Rohingya MP, Aung Zaw Win, arrested in Myanmar

    Aung Zaw Win, a major property tycoon and former MP for the Union Solidarity and Development party, was arrested at Yangon international airport on Wednesday as he was about to leave on a business trip to Bangkok . . .

    www.theguardian.com


  • Rohingya demand help as Rakhine atrocities continue

    MORE THAN 100 women were gang-raped. One was raped in front of people she loved and later killed. Even a woman eight months’ pregnant was raped.

    Sultana Razia, a Rohingya teacher from Chittagong, exposed such atrocities perpetrated against her . . .

    www.nationmultimedia.com


  • The Genocide the U.S. Didn’t See Coming

    Barack Obama was determined to open up to Myanmar. Now the country’s military is slaughtering its most vulnerable ethnic group. Could the United States have prevented it? . . .

    By NAHAL TOOSI March/April 2018

    www.politico.com



  • MP calls for Aung San Suu Kyi to be stripped of Freedom of Dundee

    Dundee West MP Chris Law has said it is time for Myanmar leader Aun San Suu Kyi to be stripped of the freedom of the city over her country’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims . . .

    Mr Law and other members of the International Development Committee were . . .

    www.thecourier.co.uk

  • Myanmar must take back Rohingyas with dignity: Lisa Curtis

    Myanmar has to take back the Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh after ensuring their security and dignity, Deputy Assistant to US President Donald Trump Lisa Curtis says on March 3, 2018. In the Reuters file photo, Rohingya refugee children fly improvised kites at Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar . . .

    www.thedailystar.net
  • Lisa Curtis: US will work towards the safe return of Rohingya

    Lisa Curtis, deputy assistant to US President Donald Trump and senior director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council at the White House, has lauded Bangladesh for its extensive humanitarian support to the persecuted Rohingya refugees from strife-torn Rakhine state of Myanmar . . .

    www.dhakatribune.com