Life, Asia - Pacific

Rohingya group urges refugee stabilization force

‘In Bangladesh or elsewhere, we don’t want to live a life of humiliation as refugees,’ says prominent Rohingya group head

Beyza Binnur Dönmez  | 15.05.2019 - Update : 16.05.2019
Rohingya group urges refugee stabilization force


A stabilization force is needed in Arakan, Myanmar, to secure the area for residents and for those who want to return to their homeland, according to the chairman of a prominent Rohingya group.

Arakan Rohingya National Organization Chairman Nurul Islam told a group of supporters at a fast-breaking meal organized by Turkish-European organization Hasene IGMG Tuesday evening in the Turkish capital that Turkey could make a "good contribution" to the stabilization force, without elaborating. Hasene IGMG is a not-for-profit organization set up by Turkish people working in Germany.

But he said 500,000 Rohingya are living in inhumane conditions in confined areas of Arakan while nearly 800,000 are sheltered as refugees in Bangladesh.

The Myanmar government declared state ownership in Arakan and gave these lands to the Buddhists settlers, he said, and added that China is also establishing a so-called economic zone in the region.

"In Bangladesh or elsewhere, we don’t want to live a life of humiliation as refugees. We want to return to our homeland,” he said. "But how can we return to a place where the genocide is still ongoing."

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

In a recent report, Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience, the OIDA raised the estimated number of murdered Rohingya to 23,962 (± 881) from a 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 Myanmar’s army and police. More than 115,000 Rohingya houses were also burned down and 113,000 others vandalized.

Islam sees as a positive step Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's request that the UN General Assembly establish a safe zone in Rakine State but said her comments need to be clarified on its development.

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.

And he said the Rohingya people welcomed a UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar that urged the international community to cut financial support to Myanmar’s military.

That came in a report Tuesday that said military commanders need to be isolated and brought before a credible court to answer charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

It is necessary for the international community to support refugees in Bangladesh and displaced people in Arakan amid ongoing humanitarian crisis, he said.

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

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