NEW YORK CITY: The independent UN expert tasked with investigating the situation in Myanmar has called on the international community to “do a lot more” to protect the vulnerable Rohingya population in the country’s Rakhine State.
Tom Andrews, whose official title is UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, warned that “not to do so is to risk seeing another 2017”. This referred to the brutal persecution of the Rohingya that began with a military crackdown on their community about six years ago, during which thousands were killed and more than a million were ultimately forced to flee to other countries.
Tom Andrews warned that the same forces who committed “those genocidal attacks” are now in control of the country and “their priority is not the human rights of the Rohingya people.”Rohingya Muslims have suffered decades of violence, discrimination and persecution in Myanmar but the largest exodus began on Aug. 25, 2017, after Myanmar’s military launched brutal operations targeting them in northern Rakhine State.
Amnesty International said the subsequent wave of violence resulted in grave crimes under international law. The junta torched entire villages and forced more 700,000 people, half of them children, to flee to Bangladesh, where almost 1 million Rohingya now live in crowded refugee camps at Cox’s Bazar.
Andrews, who had just returned from a fact-finding trip and presented to the UN in New York his report on the situation in the South Asian country, told Arab News that more than 600,000 Rohingya continue to live in Rakhine State, 130,000 of them in makeshift internment camps.“Even those who are living in the villages, those villages are surrounded,” he said.
“The people are prisoners in their own home villages. They have virtually no rights whatsoever. It’s very, very oppressive to be living under these conditions.”