1. Today, on 15 September 2017, a group of 58 Asian human rights defenders, including the Chairpersons of the National Human Rights Commissions of: Indonesia, Nepal, Timor Leste, and the Philippines, having converged in the global human rights city of Gwangju, hereby expresses our deep concern about the on-going violence committed against the Rohingya people by the Government of Myanmar.
2. We are equally concerned about the lack of adequate compassion that the governments in Asia, particularly of Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Nepal and Thailand have shown to the Rohingya people, who are facing horrendous forms of human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, gang rapes, arson and infanticide and having sought refuge in these states.
3. We are aware that members of the Rohingya community are forced to flee from Myanmar in large numbers, to distant places seeking refuge from this violence. We are concerned about the enormous risks that the Rohingya face while undertaking this journey, through land and sea routes, which has also resulted in countless deaths.
4. Those who have succeeded in this exodus live in inhuman conditions, despite some states like Bangladesh having offered temporary shelter to large numbers of Rohingya people within its boundaries.
5. We are of the informed opinion that acts of violence committed against the Rohingya people could be termed as genocide under international law. This violence must end.
6. We are aware that the main perpetrator of this violence is the military of Myanmar, and that for this the Myanmar military receives support from fundamentalist forces operating in Myanmar. We are also concerned about the Myanmar military’s action of laying unmarked landmines along the land routes taken by the Rohingya people to prevent them from returning to Myanmar. We are also aware that the constitutional framework in Myanmar has excluded the Rohingya, having denied them citizenship and all other fundamental human rights.
7. We are concerned that the incumbent government in Myanmar has not taken any meaningful steps to end this discrimination, and on the contrary the leading political party in power has in fact failed to address the situation or to even acknowledge it.
8. We understand that a final long-term solution to the Rohingya crisis is a long drawn process. This however must not be excuse for the persecution to continue. It is a shame that the incumbent government in Myanmar has denied all offers for help, and open requests by the international human rights community to have access to the Rakhine state to help end this crisis.
9. We are concerned about the positions adopted by the states of Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, and Thailand that have denied adequate assistance to the Rohingya people. We are particularly concerned about the positions adopted by states like India that has adopted the policy of pushing the Rohingya people back to Myanmar to persecution and certain death in Myanmar.
10. We therefore call upon the Government of Myanmar to immediately end this crisis meted out against the Rohingya people, and to facilitate the safe return of those who have been forced to flee from Myanmar.
11. We call upon the Government of Myanmar to facilitate an independent investigation into the violence committed against the Rohingya people in Myanmar, and hold those responsible for the violence accountable for their acts.
12. Myanmar must recognise the right of the Rohingya people to live in peace in Myanmar as free citizens of Myanmar, and to have equal access to all human rights just as any other citizen of Myanmar.
13. We call upon the civil society of Myanmar to rise up to the occasion and show support and solidarity to the Rohingya people. We also call upon the civil society of Myanmar to demand from their government, an immediate end to this crisis.
14. We affirm that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations must take the extraordinary step to engage immediately with the Government of Myanmar, urging the Government of Myanmar to end this crisis.
15. We call upon the governments of Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, and Thailand to provide all possible assistance to the Rohingya people who have sought refuge within their boundaries, including medical treatment, freedom from persecution or forced repatriation, safe and clean accommodation as well as education to Rohingya children. All efforts must be made to ensure that the Rohingya within the boundaries of these states are not exploited and exposed to risks like human and child trafficking.
16. We call upon the international community to ensure that all possible measures are adopted to end the violence committed against the Rohingya people. The member states of the UN should collectively and bilaterally engage with the Government of Myanmar to ensure that the Government stop the violence its agencies are committing against the Rohingya people and to end this ongoing crisis immediately.
September 15, 2017
Gwangju, Republic of Korea
*This statement was released in a public event and a media briefing thereafter held on 15 September 2017, at Gwangju, South Korea during the Asian Human Rights Charter workshop, jointly organised by the AHRC and the 5.18 Memorial Foundation as part of the Global Human Rights City Forum events. The event was held at the Kimdejung Convention Centre, Gwangju, South Korea.