Press releasesOffice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Comment by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Myanmar
24 August 2023
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk
Six years ago this week, Myanmar’s military initiated its latest brutal campaign in a decades-long persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine State. In what has been alleged to be a genocidal operation against the Rohingya, some 10,000 men, women, boys, girls, and newborns were killed, over 300 villages destroyed and over 700,000 fled to Bangladesh within a short period of time.
In all, over a million Rohingya have fled persecution and systematic discrimination to seek international refugee protection in Bangladesh, and more than 100,000 others are being held in closed displacement camps inside Myanmar. In a sign of their desperation, thousands more continue to attempt dangerous sea crossings from Myanmar and Bangladesh, too often ending in tragedy.
More must be done to hold the military to account for their repeated campaigns of persecution against the Rohingya, and for driving the country into its current human rights and humanitarian crisis. In the face of the impunity enjoyed by the Myanmar military for past and present crimes against the Rohingya as well as other groups, I call on States fully to support the ongoing international accountability efforts.
Having spent many years trying to ease the plight of the Rohingya, my most fervent wish is for them to be able to return to their homes in dignity, in freedom and properly recognised as part of the diversity of Myanmar’s population. Their human rights must be fully respected and their security guaranteed. This is currently not the case given the precarious conditions in Rakhine State. Furthermore, the military has shown no willingness to address systematic discrimination against the Rohingya.
In the face of competing crises, the international community must not forget the Rohingya people or their host community in Bangladesh. Humanitarian appeals for supporting the Rohingya, both in Myanmar and in the camps in Bangladesh, need greater support and funding. At the same time, third countries should expand Rohingya resettlement programmes or provide temporary protection, particularly in the region. And international efforts must be redoubled to reverse course in Myanmar and to ensure accountability and justice.
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