Cross-party MPs say it is still unsafe for Rohingya refugees to return home and call for tougher sanctions on Myanmar and greater support to Bangladesh
September 10th, 2019, London – A cross-party group of MPs has warned that continued violence and discrimination against the Rohingya in Myanmar mean conditions are still unsafe for returns, leaving Bangladesh hosting over a million refugees. They urged the UK Government to step up pressure on Myanmar, including introducing tougher sanctions and referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.
The recommendations are part of a series made in a new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Rights of the Rohingya, which is published today. The APPG, chaired by Anne Main MP and co-chaired by Rushanara Ali MP, received oral and written evidence from a wide range of humanitarian and human rights organisations, Rohingya civil society groups and UK Government officials.
The report condemns the impunity for the atrocities of August 2017, described by UN officials as ‘ethnic cleansing’, which forced more than 700,000 Rohingya people across the border to Bangladesh. The MPs call for measures to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on the Government of Myanmar, including by working with the European Union to expand targeted sanctions to include companies run by the military. It also calls on the UK Government to use its leadership role at the UN Security Council to draft a resolution that refers the situation to the International Criminal Court.
Rushanara Ali MP, co-chair of the APPG on the Rights of the Rohingya, said: “For years, parliamentarians have been raising the alarm about the atrocities inflicted on the Rohingya community in Myanmar. The events of August 2017 were the latest in a history of ongoing human rights violations and discrimination for which the Myanmar military have never been held accountable. Without justice, recognition of their rights and citizenship, the Rohingya community will remain in limbo as refugees in Bangladesh and across the region.
The UK must show leadership and uphold human rights and international laws on the world stage. At the UN Security Council, the UK should work with like-minded partners to end the stalemate and refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court immediately. We must bring to justice those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”
The report praises the Government of Bangladesh, which has opened its border to hundreds of thousands of refugees and is leading a vast humanitarian response that has saved thousands of lives. It recognises the leading role the UK has played by providing financial support for the response, but warns the global response is grossly underfunded and lacks a clear plan to coordinate longer-term investment and improvements on education, healthcare and opportunities to work that would benefit refugees and Bangladeshi residents of Cox’s Bazar.
Anne Main MP, chair of the APPG on the Rights of the Rohingya, said: “When I visited the camps in Bangladesh two years ago, I was horrified by the stories Rohingya people told me of the violence and trauma they had endured. Thanks in large part to the enormous generosity of the Government of Bangladesh and international donors, conditions for Rohingya men, women and children are improving.
“However, given the conditions in Myanmar it is likely that refugees will remain in Cox’s Bazar for years to come. The UK has an opportunity to be a key player in efforts to work hand-in-hand with the Government of Bangladesh to deliver a sustainable response that ensures both Rohingya refugees and local residents can prosper both in Bangladesh, and ultimately when refugees return home.”