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All owe Bangladesh a debt of gratitude

UN Special Rapporteur says on Rohingya crisis

Published : 19 Dec 2021 10:25 PM | Updated : 20 Dec 2021 01:37 PM

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews on Sunday said in Dhaka that “all who value human rights owe Bangladesh a debt of gratitude” while commenting on the Rohingya crisis.

He said the cause of the Rohingya crisis and the ultimate resolution of this crisis is not here in Bangladesh, but in Myanmar.

He said the Myanmar military was at fault for the crisis and said: “I will do everything in my capacity to push for a stronger, more coordinated international response to this crisis, including the imposition of pressure on the Myanmar military and for concrete measures to hold the military junta fully accountable for this crisis”.

The UN Special Rapporteur made the comment while sharing the preliminary findings of his mission on Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar. The full report will be published in March.

Over 1.1 million Rohingya have taken shelter in Bangladesh. Most of them fled the 2017 ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

“I would like to express my deep gratitude, respect and admiration for how, each time the Rohingya have been forced to flee Myanmar – most notably in 2017 when they were literally running for their lives from the Myanmar military’s genocidal attacks against them – Bangladesh provided protection,” Andrews said.

 “Bangladesh saved untold numbers of lives when it opened the arms and hearts to Rohingya people who survived these most unspeakable of horrors inflicted on them by the Myanmar military.”

 He called upon the international community to increase pressure on the Myanmar’s ‘illegal’ military regime to resolve the Rohingya crisis.

 “As we approach the anniversary of the illegal military coup in Myanmar, I believe that there must be a fundamental reassessment of how we, as an international community, have responded to this crisis. This means consideration of options to increase pressure on the military regime,” he said.

 Special rapporteur is an independent expert who works on behalf of the UN within the scope of "special procedure" mechanisms who have a specific country or thematic mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

 A former member of the US Congress from Maine, Andrews is a Robina Senior Human Rights Fellow at Yale University Law School, an Associate of Harvard University's Asia Center and has a Washington DC based consulting practice, Andrews Strategic Services.

 He also served as General Secretary of "The Nobel Peace Laureate Campaign for Aung San Suu Kyi and the People of Burma" in 2001 and was a consultant for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and the Euro-Burma Network.

 During his stay to Dhaka, he visited Rohingya camps and met with the ministers, senior officials of the government and members of the civil society as part of his mission.

He found that the strains on host communities in Bangladesh are clearly present. A nd as a result, it is natural that tensions can, and will arise. “Therefore, it is particularly important for the Rohingya community not to be scapegoated, for tensions not to be flamed.”

 “The Myanmar Rohingya are not at fault. The international organisations who support and advocate for them are not at fault.  The Bangladesh government who supports them is not at fault. Let me be perfectly clear, the fault lies clearly and firmly on the shoulders of the Myanmar military.”

 He said a stronger commitment of resources is required for the Rohingya refugees and host communities. And the government of Bangladesh needs and deserves a stronger international partnership.

 “I will continue to encourage robust international engagement not only with an increase in resources, but also with complimentary measures including the provision of robust third-country resettlement options for Rohingya refugees.”

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