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UN Security Council Meeting a Chance to Act on Myanmar

Inaction Will Enable Further Abuse of Vulnerable Rohingya

Rohingya refugees wait for blankets to be distributed at Kutupalong camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh on December 10.  © 2017 Reuters
(New York) – The United Nations Security Council should take prompt, concerted, and effective international action to respond to Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis, Human Rights Watch and 80 other nongovernmental organizations said today in a joint appeal to the council.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, are scheduled to brief the 15-member Security Council on December 12, 2017. No outcome was expected from the council’s discussion.

The 81 humanitarian, faith-based, and human rights organizations stated in their joint appeal that “Condemnations have not resulted in Myanmar’s government ending its abuses or holding those responsible to account.” Characterizing Myanmar security force atrocities against the ethnic Rohingya population as “crimes against humanity,” the coalition urged the Security Council to explore all avenues for justice and accountability, including through international courts.

The coalition also called on the Security Council to impose an arms embargo against Myanmar’s military and targeted sanctions against Myanmar military officers responsible for crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations.

“If the pledge to ‘never again’ allow atrocities means anything, the Security Council cannot delay action any longer,” the coalition said.

Below, please find the full text of the appeal.

Joint Appeal to the UN Security Council to Act on Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis

In advance of the United Nations Security Council’s December 12 meeting on the situation in Myanmar, we, a global coalition of 81 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.



African Life Center


American Jewish World Service

Amnesty International

Arab American Bar Association

Association Suisse Birmanie

Burma Action Ireland

Burma Campaign UK

Burma Human Rights Network

Burma Task Force

Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Carl Wilkens Fellowship

Center for Development of International Law

Center for Justice & Accountability

Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP-Liberia)

Darfur Women's Action Group

David Rockefeller Fund

Emgage Action

Entrepreneurs du Monde

Equal Rights Trust

European Rohingya Council

Fortify Rights

Foundation for Ethnic Understanding

Franciscan Action Network

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Genocide Watch

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Global Justice Center

Global Network of Women Peacebuilders

Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict – Southeast Asia (GPPAC-SEA)

Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition

Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College

Human Rights First

Human Rights Now

Human Rights Watch

Humanity United Action

Info Birmanie

Initiatives for International Dialogue

Interfaith Center of New York 

International Campaign for the Rohingya

International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect ICR2P

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Investors Against Genocide

Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights

Jewish Alliance of Concern over Burma (JACOB)

Jewish World Watch

Law @theMargins

Majlis Ashura - The Islamic Leadership Council of New York

Médecins du Monde

Middle East and North Africa Partnership for Preventing of Armed Conflict (MENAPPAC)

Muslim Bar Association of New York

Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)

Muslin Social Justice Initiative (MSJI)

National Lawyer's Guild - International

Network of Spiritual Progressives

Partners Relief & Development

Pax Christi Metro New York

Permanent Peace Movement (PPM)

Physicians for Human Rights

Rabbinical Assembly

Refugee Center Online

Refugees International

Rohingya Community Ireland

Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus

Save the Children

Society for Threatened Peoples – Germany

STAND Canada

Stanley Foundation

Stop Genocide Now

Swedish Burma Committee

Syrian Network for Human Rights

T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

The Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights

The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies

Turning Point for Women and Children

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

United Nations Association - Sweden

Viet Tan

World Federalist Movement – Canada

World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP)

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