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  • A Border Security Force official registers the names of Rohingya Muslims after they were detained while crossing the India-Bangladesh border from Bangladesh.

    A Border Security Force official registers the names of Rohingya Muslims after they were detained while crossing the India-Bangladesh border from Bangladesh. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 February 2019

"If there is no accountability, the oppression will continue. Why would the military stop if they know there will be no consequences for their actions?"

The Bangladesh foreign minister this week said the main objective regarding the Rohingya refugees is the assurance of their safe return to their motherland, warning of radicalism in the region otherwise.

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“There may be developed radicalism and uncertainty may looms in the region that may hinder the regional peace and stability. Bangladesh, being an overpopulated country, has been facing huge challenges to manage the burden of over 10 lakh (10,000,000) Rohingyas in its land.” Foreign minister Dr. Abdul Momen said.

For years, civilians in Myanmar have been forced to flee both internally, and across the border into Bangladesh, amid escalating violence in Myanmar’s Chin and Rakhine states, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) said in a statement.

More than 720,000 mostly-Muslim Rohingyas have fled an army crackdown in Rakhine State, since Aug. 2017 and have sought shelter in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

U.N. spokesperson Andrej Mahecic expressed his concern over the humanitarian impact of the continuing violence and what he warned could lead to the “potential for both further internal displacement and the outflow of refugees”.

“As part of inter-agency efforts, UNHCR stands ready to support the humanitarian response in the affected areas in Myanmar,” he said.

The 2017 military operation in Rakhine state was condemned at the time as being tantamount to genocide, by the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

“The scale of it is very difficult to gauge,” Mahecic said. “We understand from some of the reports that say 200 people have sought shelter,” but “without effective access in Rakhine, and without effective access in other parts, we can’t assess the scope of the current internal displacement as a result of the violence which flared up some time in December last year.”

The president of the Burmese Rohingya Organization UK, Tun Khin said that without the spectre of accountability or justice, the atrocities would simply multiply.

"The people in the [refugee] camps want justice. This is the first thing they told me," Tun Khin told Al Jazeera.

"If there is no accountability, the oppression will continue. Why would the military stop if they know there will be no consequences for their actions? And if the Rohingya are to return to Myanmar, their safety has to be guaranteed. We are facing an existential threat."

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