Internally displaced persons camp on the Burma/Bangladesh border
Internally displaced persons camp on the Burma/Bangladesh border, February 2017.

There is now ample evidence documenting grave human rights abuses in Rakhine State, Burma, most recently in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ February 2017 Flash Report. The UNHCR Flash Report recounts indiscriminate killings of men, women, and children, and rape of Rohingya women and girls by security forces, brutal beatings, among other atrocities that it says may amount to “crimes against humanity.” This report was preceded by and corroborates others from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Fortify Rights, and UUSC partner, the Burma Human Rights Network.

In the face of this evidence, the government of Burma (Myanmar) has almost uniformly denied abuses of the Rohingya and has used state-run media to spread propaganda discrediting witnesses. The government refuses to allow independent human rights monitors into the affected area to assess the situation. The two commissions ostensibly investigating the crisis, the “Advisory Commission on Rakhine State” and the “Investigation Commission on Rakhine State” have not proven up to the task, and lack both independent access to witnesses and freedom of movement, as well as have close ties to the Burmese military, which is accused of perpetrating the violence.

The government of Burma appears both unwilling and unable to fairly investigate allegations of human rights violations in Rakhine State. The Rohingya cannot wait any longer for justice and relief.

UUSC is participating in a coordinated advocacy campaign to demand that the UN Human Rights Council, at their March meeting, pass a resolution mandating a Commission of Inquiry that would examine human rights violations, establish facts, and assess alleged crimes under international law in Rakhine State, including abuses against Rohingya Muslims and other Muslims as well as Rakhine Buddhists. It is the government’s responsibility to investigate human rights abuses there, but as they have failed to do so, the international community must act.

UUSC and its partners join with a growing swell of voices – including 40 Burmese civil society organizations, Fortify Rights Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, and Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to calling for a Commission of Inquiry now.

Add your name to this effort and urge Secretary Tillerson to join our call at uusc.org/truthforrohingya.