Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees marked the fifth anniversary of their exodus from Myanmar to Bangladesh on Thursday, as the United States, the European Union and other Western countries pledged to continue supporting refugees’ pursuit of justice in international courts.
In a major development on Thursday, the United Kingdom announced new sanctions against Myanmar companies linked to the military.
The British government said in a statement that the punitive measures were targeting Star Sapphire Group of Companies, Gateway International Group and Sky One Construction, to limit the military’s access to arms and revenue.
London is also implicated in the lawsuit
The Minister Responsible for Asia, Amanda Milling, also confirmed the UK’s intention to join the lawsuit launched by Gambia against Myanmar in November 2019, in which they seek justice at the International Court of Justice based in The Hague, the highest judicial body of the United Nations. The trial will decide whether Myanmar violated its obligations under the Genocide Convention when the military cracked down on the Rohingya in 2016-2017.
Bangladesh has taken in more than one million Rohingya who have fled Myanmar in recent decades. About 740,000 of them crossed the border in August 2017 after the Myanmar army “cleaning process” launched against them following attacks by a rebel group. The security situation in Myanmar has deteriorated since last year’s military coup, and attempts to restore it have failed.
Washington talks about genocide
In March, the US believed the crackdown on the Rohingya in Myanmar had amounted to genocide after authorities confirmed reports of mass atrocities against civilians. The Myanmar military perpetrated these attacks during its widespread and systematic campaign against the ethnic minority. Rohingya Muslims face discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, with most of them denied citizenship and many other rights.
Bangladeshi officials have expressed frustration about returning refugees to Myanmar after at least two failed attempts to return them since 2017. But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said return is the only solution to the crisis.
Bangladesh will take them back home
On the eve of the anniversary, Bangladeshi Interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said his country wanted the refugees to return safely to Myanmar.
“Bangladesh wants to ensure that the Rohingya return to their homes in Myanmar in safe conditions, where they will no longer be persecuted and eventually obtain citizenship.” – Tell.
“We urge the international community to work with us to support the Rohingya people, to pressure Myanmar to end mass persecution and allow the Rohingya to return safely to their homes.” Khan said.
The issue of the Rohingya crisis has been brought before international courts, with Myanmar denying any wrongdoing. However, world powers are not satisfied with the situation in Myanmar.
The West is worried
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Wednesday that the United States will continue “Committed to promoting justice and accountability” For the Rohingya and all of Myanmar.
“We continue to support Myanmar’s independent investigative mechanism, the case under the Genocide Convention brought by Gambia to the International Court of Justice against Burma, and credible courts around the world that have jurisdiction over Burmese military atrocities.” Blinken said.
A joint statement by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union and the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States confirms that they remain concerned about the discovery by the United Nations fact-finding mission of grave violations. Human rights The consistent pattern of violations in many cases amounts to a serious crime under international law.
“We are also aware of other initiatives to hold perpetrators accountable, including the Gambia’s efforts before the International Court of Justice, which is currently investigating whether the Myanmar military’s atrocities against the Rohingya amount to genocide.” The statement says.
“We reaffirm that Myanmar must comply with the ICJ’s order on interim measures.” They add.
Human rights groups too
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, are also calling for action.
In a statement, Human Rights Watch said the anniversary should encourage relevant governments to do more to hold the Myanmar military accountable and ensure justice and security for the Rohingya in Bangladesh, Myanmar and the region.
“Governments should mark the fifth anniversary of the devastating campaign against the Rohingya with a coordinated international strategy for accountability and justice, with the contribution of the Rohingya” said Elaine Pearson, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch for Asia.
In November 2017, Bangladesh and Myanmar – mediated by China – signed a bilateral agreement on the repatriation of refugees. Earlier this month, Bangladesh requested China’s help in repatriating the Rohingya to Myanmar during the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Jie.
Prepared with AP Report.
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