World, Asia - Pacific

Korean NGOs mark Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day

Activists demand Myanmar guarantee safe, dignified return of Rohingya

Korean NGOs mark Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day

By Sorwar Alam


A group of South Korean organizations voiced support for Rohingya refugees Friday by demanding Myanmar guarantee safe return for the world’s most persecuted community who took shelter in neighboring Bangladesh.

South Korean activists gathered in front of the Myanmar embassy in Seoul to express solidarity with refugees on Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day.

In a written statement, the Korean Civil Society said it organized the protest “to honor victims killed by Myanmar government last year and to band together with the most persecuted people who have been denied the right to call ‘Rohingya’ themselves.”

On Aug. 25, 2017, Myanmar launched a major military crackdown on the Muslim ethnic minority, killing 25,000 civilians and forcing 750,000 others to flee to Bangladesh.

The Korean Civil Society, a group of 32 Korean organizations, called attention to “the fact that the Myanmar government has for a long time maintained a broad and systematic way of collective violence, deportation and legal and institutional discrimination against the Rohingya people”.

The statement criticized the “organized genocide” and “typical ethnic cleansing” by the government of Aung San Suu Kyi who is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Mentioning Rohingya people’s right to return home, the group urged “the Myanmar government to guarantee their voluntary, safe and dignified return”.

South Korean NGOs demanded independent investigations into the Rohingya genocide, unrestricted access of international media and human rights group to the area.

They also called on Myanmar to acknowledge “Rohingya as indigenous people and give them the citizenship” while demanding the UN Security Council “submit the case of the genocide to the International Criminal Court”.

“The Myanmar government should ensure voluntary, safe and dignified return of all the refugees, and ensure active participation in the repatriation discussion,” according to the statement and the group urged its own government to extend a helping hand to Rohingya refugees.

Persecuted Rohingya

Since Aug. 25, 2017, more than 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

In its recent report, Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience, the OIDA increased the estimated number of murdered Rohingya to 23,962 (±881) from an earlier Doctors Without Borders figure of 9,400.

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, the OIDA report said, adding that 17,718 (±780) Rohingya women and girls were raped by the Myanmar army and police. More than 115,000 Rohingya houses were burned and 113,000 others were vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In its report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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