Twelve Nobel laureates, including Prof Muhammad Yunus, and 15 other eminent global citizens in an open letter on Wednesday urged the UN Security Council (UNSC) to intervene immediately to end the human crisis in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
Addressing the UNSC president and its members, they said, “The human tragedy and crimes against humanity unfolding in the Arakan region of Myanmar need your immediate intervention. This is one of the decisive moments when bold and decisive actions are needed promptly when it is still possible to get it resolved.”
According to different organisations, recent military offensive by the Myanmar Army in Rakhine has led to the killing of hundreds of Rohingya people. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. Complete villages have been burned while women raped, many civilians arbitrarily arrested, and children killed, the eminent citizens said in the letter.
Besides, humanitarian aid organisations have been almost completely denied access, creating an appalling humanitarian crisis in an area already extremely poor.
According to UN sources, around 370,000 people have fled to Bangladesh during the last two weeks. Human misery created by such massive displacement of men, women and children under the threat of death is getting worse every day.
“Some of us denounced the previous spate of violence late last year and wrote to you to intervene. However, the situation has not improved. We urge you to take decisive actions to stop the violence against innocent civilians and bring permanent peace in Rakhine state,” the signatories said.
They urged the UNSC to intervene immediately by using all available means. “We request you to take immediate action for cessation of indiscriminate military attack on innocent civilians that is forcing them to leave their home and flee country to turn into stateless people.”
They joined the Secretary General of the United Nations in re-emphasising “the grievances and unresolved plight of the Rohingya have festered for far too long and are becoming an undeniable factor in regional destabilisation. The authorities in Myanmar must take determined action to put an end to this vicious cycle of violence and to provide security and assistance to all those in need.”
“We urge you to persuade Myanmar government to take immediate steps to implement the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission which the Myanmar government established in 2016 under the pressure of international community.”
The Commission, mostly comprised of Myanmar citizens, chaired by Kofi Annan, recommended providing citizenship to the Rohingyas, allowing them freedom of movement, rights and equality before the law, ensuring communal representation, lack of which affects Muslims disproportionately, facilitating UN assistance in ensuring safety and security of returning people.
To implement the Commission’s recommendations, they also suggested preparatory steps, including reappointing the Commission members immediately to constitute an Implementation Committee to oversee the implementation of the recommendations, taking immediate steps to stop the outflow of refugees, inviting international observers to visit vulnerable areas on a regular basis, inviting back the refugees who already left the country, building camps within Myanmar for the returning refugees to facilitate their rehabilitation with UN financing and supervision, giving them the citizenship as prescribed in the Commission Report under the exclusive authority of the Implementation Committee and ensuring political freedom and freedom of movement.
A bold change in approach is needed by United Nations and the international community if there is to be an end to the cycle of violence against the Rohingyas, the noted global citizens said.
The government of Myanmar needs to be told that international support and finance is conditional on a major change in policy towards the Rohingyas, they said adding that the world is anxiously waiting to see that UNSC is playing its role to bring end to a humanitarian catastrophe and build peace in the region.
The signatories also include Máiread Maguire, Betty Williams, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Oscar Arias Sánchez, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman, Malala Yousafzai, Sir Richard J. Roberts and Elizabeth Blackburn, former Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, former Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino, former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson.