BURMA TASK FORCE
Agreement Fails to Advance a Humane Solution to Rohingya Refugee Crisis
(Chicago, IL, 7/5/2018) The Burma Task Force (BTF) has condemned the recently agreed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the United Nations and the Myanmar government as a non-starter. The agreement, recently made public, claims to establish a “framework for cooperation” on the Rohingya crisis, but excludes the critical issues of citizenship, security, and accountability for crimes against humanity committed by the Myanmar government. Consequently it has drawn widespread criticism from Rohingya refugees and international observers alike.
According to critics of the agreement, the Myanmar government has proven its unwillingness to engage in good-faith negotiations through its refusal to restore citizenship to over a million Rohingya Muslims. Without citizenship, basic rights to security, property, and livelihood are effectively non-existent. Moreover, Rohingya leaders themselves were not consulted in the development of the agreement.
“In its present form we cannot endorse the present agreement, and neither should the international community” said BTF Chair, Abdul Malik Mujahid. “Excluding the critical issues of citizenship and security means Myanmar is not serious, and it also suggests that the U.N. may be willing to accept the unacceptable in order to reach a deal, however unsatisfactory it may be. Rohingya refugees will not simply return to a situation in which their very lives are in jeopardy because of ethnic and religious hate. The legal guarantees and civil protections of citizenship are absolutely essential to any minimally acceptable agreement.”
Over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims live in the world’s largest refugee camp located outside Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. There, they join hundreds of thousands of existing Rohingya refugees in the country who fled from earlier spasms of violence in Myanmar. Officially deprived of their citizenship since 1982, the Rohingya have been subject to several successive waves of pogroms and military assaults. Most recently, in the summer of 2017 some 700,000 unarmed Rohingya civilians were expelled from Myanmar through a massive military offensive.
As of early July 2018 the situation is at a stalemate, with negotiations stalling out and leaving over a million traumatized Rohingya refugees in limbo. The plight of the Rohingya is one part of a global refugee crisis that has reached a record of almost seventy million forcibly-displaced people worldwide.
Abdul Malik Mujahid, BTF Chair