Special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the Rohingya crisis (December 5)
No repatriation of refugees without security – Overcoming apartheid in Burma – End impunity! (Press Release)
On occasion of the special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday – focusing on the Rohingya crisis – the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) warns against a hasty repatriation of the 630,000 Rohingya refugees to Burma. “As long as Burma practices apartheid, the Rohingya won’t be able to live in their home country in safety. Without a political solution to the Rohingya question, the refugees will not return voluntarily,” said Ulrich Delius, the STP’s director, in Göttingen on Tuesday. “The international community must insist on an independent investigation of the human rights violations – and those who are responsible for the violence must be held accountable. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights must also clarify whether the crimes against humanity are to be seen as genocide crimes.”
Bangladesh had requested a special session of the UN Human Rights Council. “The convening of this special session shows how problematic the refugee crisis in South Asia has become – and it shows that the crisis is posing a threat to stability in the region,” said Delius. Normally, the Council meets three times a year, but special sessions can be scheduled if more than one third of the 47 member states are in favor – which happens quite rarely. Today’s special session was supported 33 of the 47 member states and by 40 non-council members.
“For Burma, this is another serious loss of prestige, as the country is seen on the same level as dictatorships such as North Korea and South Sudan. The state should be trying to improve its image in order to attract investors,” said Delius. “But if Burma’s army and the government under Aung San Suu Kyi try to deliberately deceive the world, and if they don’t take any responsibility for the violence, their country will become an international pariah – a status Burma already had under the military government until 2012.”
Together with Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh will present a draft resolution at the meeting. It is largely in line with a resolution adopted by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly on November 16, 2017. The committee is responsible for human rights issues. The resolution aims at putting more pressure on Burma to finally cooperate with the UN, to shed light on the violence, and to ensure that those who are responsible will be held accountable. “This is an important step in reminding Burma that expulsions and ethnic cleansing are the most serious crimes, and that they can not go unpunished. Apart from that, it is a disgrace that it wasn’t the EU that started the initiative – but Saudi Arabia, which tends to disregard human rights itself,” said Delius.
Header Photo: Catholic Diocese of Saginaw via Flickr