Rohingya refugees are marking the fifth anniversary of their mass exodus from Myanmar to Bangladesh on Thursday, as the United States, the European Union and other Western nations pledged to continue supporting their pursuit of justice in international courts.
Bangladesh is hosting more than one million Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar over decades, including some 740,000 who crossed the border in August 2017 after the Myanmar military launched a “clearance operation” against them following attacks by a rebel group. The situation in Myanmar has worsened since a military takeover last year and attempts to send them back have failed.
In March, the US formally said the oppression of Rohingya in Myanmar amounted to “genocide” after authorities confirmed accounts of mass atrocities against civilians by Myanmar’s military in a widespread and systematic campaign against the ethnic minority. the mostly Muslim Rohingya face widespread discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where most are denied citizenship and many other rights.
The issue of the Rohingya crisis has gone to international courts where Myanmar has denied charges of any wrongdoing. But global powers are not satisfied with Myanmar’s position.
In a statement on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US remained “committed to advancing justice and accountability” for Rohingya and all people of Myanmar.
Separately, a joint statement by the High Representative on behalf of the EU, and the foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and the US said they remained concerned by the UN fact-finding mission’s establishment of consistent patterns of serious human rights violations and abuses with “genocidal intent”.
Human Rights Watch said the anniversary should prompt concerned governments to do more to hold the military to account and secure justice and safety for the Rohingya across the region.
“Governments should mark the five-year anniversary of the devastating campaign against the Rohingya with a coordinated international strategy for accountability and justice that draws on Rohingya input,” said Elaine Pearson, acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.