UN / Rohingya apartheid: Australia must support robust resolution

Ahead of tomorrow’s United Nations Human Rights Council “special session” on the situation of the Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar, Amnesty International Australia’s Crisis Campaigns Coordinator Diana Sayed said:

“Australia must show leadership in guiding the Human Rights Council towards a robust resolution on the Rohingya crisis. Any resolution passed must send a strong message to the Myanmar Government and military that the international community will not remain silent or sit by idly while evidence of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity continues to pile up.

“Australia under Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was once one of the world’s most outspoken critics of South Africa’s then apartheid regime. But there is an apartheid regime in operation right now on our doorstep against the Rohingya, which Australia has done very little about.

“The horrors inflicted on the Rohingya people by the Myanmar military are indescribable. The plan by Bangladesh to repatriate and relocate the Rohingya is unthinkable while the systemic discrimination against them continues. The silence of the Australian Government is deafening.

“Now is our chance to let the world know that we will not tolerate this apartheid regime any longer.

“By holding this special session, the Human Rights Council is highlighting the urgency of the need to address the human rights crisis in Myanmar.

“But this is not enough – the Council must now step up and pass a strong resolution that sends a clear message to Myanmar’s government and military that their abhorrent treatment of the Rohingya must end immediately, and that perpetrators will not enjoy impunity.”


More than 620,000 people have fled into Bangladesh in a matter of months, as security forces unleashed a targeted campaign of violence against the Rohingya: killing an unknown number of women, men and children; raping women and girls; laying landmines; and burning entire Rohingya villages.

Rohingya people who remain in the country are trapped in a dehumanising system of apartheid, where virtually every aspect of their lives is severely restricted. Dismantling this system of apartheid is essential to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled Myanmar.

Myanmar’s security forces have also committed wide-ranging human rights violations against other ethnic minorities, in particular in Kachin and northern Shan States. These include extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture and forced labour.