Joint appeal to the UN Security Council to act on Rohingya crisis


In advance of the United Nations Security Council’s December 12 meeting on the situation in Myanmar, we, a global coalition of 69 human rights, faith-based and humanitarian organizations, urgently call on the Council to take immediate action to address the campaign of ethnic cleansing and mass atrocity crimes, including crimes against humanity, committed against the ethnic Rohingya population by Myanmar’s security forces in northern Rakhine State, as well as the continuing restrictions on humanitarian assistance throughout the state since October 2016.

Words of condemnation by the UN, including the Security Council’s Presidential Statement on November 6 and the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee’s adoption of a resolution on Myanmar, have not resulted in Myanmar’s government ending its abuses or holding those responsible to account. It is time for prompt, concerted and effective international action.

Myanmar authorities are still heavily restricting access to northern Rakhine State for most international humanitarian organizations, human rights monitors, and independent media. Most of Myanmar’s Rohingya population, estimated at more than one million, have been forced to flee to Bangladesh as refugees. Despite a bilateral agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh, there are insufficient guarantees that return at this time can be informed, safe and voluntary, that requirements for documentation of prior residence will not be used as a pretext to reject legitimate returns, that temporary holding centers will not become semi-permanent internment camps and that returnees will have the same rights of movement, access to livelihoods and health and education services as other residents of Rakhine State. The UN Fact-Finding Mission, which is tasked with preparing a report on abuses nationwide, has thus far been prevented from gaining access to the country.

Over 646,000 Rohingya have been made refugees since August 25, when Myanmar security forces launched "clearance operations" in response to armed attacks on security posts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Refugee testimonies provide overwhelming evidence of Myanmar military-led atrocities during these operations, and a similar campaign that had begun in October 2016. The crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Rohingya include massacres and other unlawful killings, widespread rape and other sexual violence, looting, deportation and mass arson of hundreds of Rohingya villages. The violence also displaced tens of thousands of people from other ethnic minorities. Rohingya who remain in Myanmar continue to face severe food insecurity and threats in addition to systematic violations of their rights to a nationality, freedom of movement, and access to healthcare, education, and livelihood opportunities.

The Myanmar government has the primary responsibility to protect its diverse population without discrimination and regardless of ethnicity, religion or citizenship status. But, the civilian and military leadership of Myanmar, including the military’s Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, refuse to even acknowledge the serious human rights violations against the Rohingya and continue to deny any wrongdoing by state security forces in Rakhine State while ignoring decades of institutionalized discrimination against the Rohingya community.

We urge the Security Council to immediately impose an arms embargo against Myanmar’s military that covers the direct and indirect supply, sale or transfer, including transit and trans-shipment of all weapons, munitions, and other military and security equipment, as well as the provision of training and other military and security assistance. The Security Council should also place targeted sanctions on senior officers responsible for crimes against humanity or other serious human rights violations. Financial sanctions should target senior officers who ordered criminal acts or are liable as a matter of command responsibility. The Security Council should explore all avenues for justice and accountability, including through international courts.

If the pledge to "never again" allow atrocities means anything, the Security Council cannot delay action any longer.

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  • Co-signatories

    1. ALTSEAN-Burma
    2. Ameinu
    3. American Jewish World Service
    4. Amnesty International
    5. Burma Action Ireland
    6. Burma Campaign UK
    7. Burma Human Rights Network
    8. Burma Task Force
    9. Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    10. Carl Wilkens Fellowship
    11. Center for Development of International Law
    12. Center for Justice & Accountability
    13. Darfur Women’s Action Group
    14. David Rockefeller Fund
    15. Emgage Action
    16. Entrepreneurs du Monde
    17. Equal Rights Trust
    18. European Rohingya Council
    19. Fortify Rights
    20. Franciscan Action Network
    21. Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
    22. Friends Committee on National Legislation
    23. Genocide Watch
    24. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    25. Global Justice Center
    26. Global Network of Women Peacebuilders
    27. Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College
    28. Humanity United Action
    29. Human Rights First
    30. Human Rights Now
    31. Human Rights Watch
    32. Info Birmanie
    33. International Campaign for the Rohingya
    34. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    35. International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect ICR2P
    36. Investors Against Genocide
    37. Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights
    38. Jewish Alliance of Concern over Burma (JACOB)
    39. Jewish World Watch
    40. Médecins du Monde
    41. Middle East and North Africa Partnership for Preventing of Armed Conflict (MENAPPAC)
    42. Muslim Bar Association of New York
    43. Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
    44. Muslin Social Justice Initiative (MSJI)
    45. Network of Spiritual Progressives
    46. Partners Relief & Development
    47. Permanent Peace Movement (PPM)
    48. Physicians for Human Rights
    49. Rabbinical Assembly
    50. Refugee Center Online
    51. Refugees International
    52. Rohingya Community Ireland
    53. Save the Children
    54. Society for Threatened Peoples – Germany
    55. STAND Canada
    56. Stanley Foundation
    57. Stop Genocide Now
    58. Syrian Network for Human Rights
    59. The Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP-Liberia)
    60. The Interfaith Center of New York 
    61. The Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights
    62. The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies
    63. T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
    64. United Nations Association - Sweden
    65. United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
    66. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
    67. Viet Tan
    68. World Federalist Movement – Canada
    69. World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP)

  • Member organisations - Myanmar
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