October 31, 2018

Burma Not Safe for Returning Rohingyas, Warns USCIRF

WASHINGTON, DC — Responding to the recent announcement by the governments of Burma and Bangladesh that repatriation efforts for Rohingya Muslim refugees will begin next month, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRFVice Chair Kristina Arriaga, who visited Burma last year, cited evidence of continued atrocities committed by the Buddhist-majority Burma as one of several reasons the announcement is premature. An estimated 921,000 Rohingya refugees currently reside in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh, many of whom fled brutal violence in Burma at the hands of Burma’s military and other nonstate actors.
“Not only have Rohingya Muslims received no assurance of their physical safety when they return to Burma,” said Arriaga, “but there have been no guarantees of protection for their properties, livelihoods or basic human rights, including religious freedom.  While we support continued negotiations between the two countries, there is still much to be done before it is safe for these refugees to return to their homeland in a manner that is both dignified and voluntary.”
USCIRF has called on the State Department to redesignate Burma as a “country of particular concern” and to continue to impose targeted sanctions, such as visa bans and asset freezes, on specific abusers in the Burmese military and among nonstate actors.
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