Donor governments seeking to raise a billion dollars in aid for Rohingya refugees should acknowledge the crimes perpetrated against them in Myanmar as genocide and crimes against humanity, rights organisation Fortify Rights said today.
The USA, UK, EU and the UN Refugee Agency are co-hosting a virtual donor conference tomorrow to raise humanitarian funds for displaced Rohingya refugees and host communities. Currently, the funding faces a shortfall as less than half a billion has been raised so far.
“Genocide is the root cause of the humanitarian needs, and governments should acknowledge that,” said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer of Fortify Rights, in a statement today.
“If we ever hope to live in a world free from genocide, we have to diagnose it as it’s unfolding. Any failure to address the root crimes will only invite this annual scramble for funds year after year.”
This week, Fortify Rights joined Refugees International and 33 other organisations in a joint letter to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling on the US government to make a genocide determination with regard to the crimes against the Rohingya people in Myanmar.
“A genocide determination would send a sense of urgency to spur the kind of multi-lateral diplomatic engagement and pressure needed to ensure that Myanmar refrains from committing further atrocities and, ultimately, creates the conditions conducive to the safe, voluntary, and informed return of Rohingya refugees to their homeland,” the joint letter said.
Unpublished quantitative data collected by Fortify Rights and a team of Rohingya researchers found that 100 percent of Rohingya respondents in Bangladesh believe the Myanmar military is intent on destroying them. The US government has never publicly determined the Myanmar military committed genocide or crimes against humanity.
On October 23, The Gambia will file a “Memorial” in its lawsuit against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, making its case for how Myanmar is responsible for genocide against Rohingya in Rakhine State.
The same day, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar Tom Andrews is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly.
Fortify Rights, a regional rights body in a statement said, in 2016 and 2017, the Myanmar Army led a campaign of massacres, mass rape, and mass arson, forcibly deporting more than 800,000 Rohingya men, women, and children to Bangladesh. Up to 600,000 Rohingya people remain in Myanmar and continue to face genocide and other international crimes.
In 2018, Fortify Rights, and later a UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, determined that attacks against Rohingya in 2016 and 2017 amounted to genocide.