Agenda item 4: Clustered interactive dialogue with:
- Independent international fact-finding mission (FFM) on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (Oral update)
- Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (A/HRC/37/70)
Thank you, Mr. President.
We appreciate the update reports by the FFM and the Special Rapporteur. We share the Special Rapporteur’s grave concern at the Bangladesh-Myanmar Repatriation Agreement, which would force Rohingya refugees to return from camps in Bangladesh to so-called “temporary accommodation”, expected to be prison-like camps in Myanmar that Rohingya have been returned to previously.
Rohingya refugees are very clear that they will return to Myanmar only if their safety is assured by the international community, their lands returned, and houses rebuilt; if they are granted full citizenship and no longer subjected to discrimination and persecution. These conditions are not met. Moreover, Rohingya refugees were not consulted throughout the planning of their return. Bangladesh agreed to repatriate refugees to the state-sponsored system of apartheid that is still in place in Myanmar.
Refoulment is an absolute prohibition under international human rights and refugee law. EAFORD and Geneva International Centre for Justice consider the repatriation deal extremely immature and are convinced that it will result in further human rights violations against the Rohingya minority. To implement any repatriation plan, an unconditional end to violence and guarantees of non-recurrence must be ensured.
Secondly, we are seriously concerned that refugees and international agencies, including UNHCR are excluded from all stages of this repatriation. Rohingya should play a key role in the planning and management of their return. Thirdly, the required verification process is contentious. The Myanmar authorities denied the Rohingya citizenship and deprived them of any possibility to prove their identity for decades. Under these circumstances, it is unreasonable to expect Rohingya refugees to present the necessary documents for voluntary repatriation. Lastly, we are mindful of previous repatriations of tens of thousands Rohingya to Myanmar in the 1990s and early 2000s.
We call upon all relevant actors to ensure that Rohingya refugees are not forced back to Myanmar as long as they remain at risk of serious human rights violations. Eventual voluntary repatriation should take place under the supervision of international human rights monitors and the relevant UN agencies, in conditions that are – as stated by the Rapporteur - safe, dignified, and sustainable.