Sunday, January 2, 2022

Exclusive Interview with UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights in Myanmar Part 1.


Exclusive Interview with UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights in Myanmar Part 1


BNN, 23 December 2021

“Accountability is key because it was the lack of the accountability that it really led to their belief, it appears to me, that they could commit these attrocity and crimes, and think that they can get away with it. It is extremely important that they’ll be held accountable.” – Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights in Myanmar.

Myanmar military burnt down houses and killed people and so a million of Rohongya fled to Bangladesh in 2017. Those who committed the crimes must be held accountable, said Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights in Myanmar.

Htet Aung Kyaw, BNN, had an Exclusive Interview with him who recently went to the Rohingya camps.

BNN: Mingalabar! First, I would like to ask you about your trip to Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. Can you please tell us about their situation?
Tom Andrews: I just literally stepped off an aeroplane from my trip to Bangladesh and very eager to learn of perspective and see the condition of approximately one million Rohingya who are living in Bangladesh most of them to run for their lives from genocidal attacks on 2017 in Rakhine State.
And so that was my mission. And to use that information to provide analysis to the human rights council of the UN and as well as update to them and write recommendations.
So it was a very short trip, a little over a week and a very intensive trip.

We travelled to camps in Cox’s Bazaar district. I travelled to Bhasan Char island, taking three hour boat trip back over and a three hour boat trip back, appreciation of how long it takes to the island, to the remotess of the island. And then we spent time trying to understand exactly where people were coming from and their goals and their aspirations and it was very very good trip and it was a very informative trip. So I can talk to you about some the particulars about the trip if you like but that is the overview of what we did and where we went.

BNN: So far as we know, there are nearly one million Rohingya out there. How are the UN Agencies helping them?

Tom Andrews: Well, … , most of the refugees are in the Cox’s Bazaar district. And I went to Kutabalong camp, as a matter of fact, I spent time in camp one there and well I visited many many places including a market that had been destroyed, other market stalls and shops that were there had been taken down.

I went to speak with the family of Mohibullah who of course was assasinated in September this year, met his widow and family members. I went to the office of his organisation. I stood in the spot where he was murdered. It was a very powerful powerful moment and it kind of underscores the security issues that face the Rohingya community particulatly in the camp. I talked about the security concerns that they had.

So the conditions there are challenging, difficult. There, a number of specific areas were identified; the need for a much better education opportunities for young people. I learnt that over half of the Rohingya population there is under 18 years of age.

And the education that provided is not adequate to meet the needs of these people. in the areas in which there needs to be strengthened or comprehensive opportunities for young people to learn and to get education in the language, of Burmese language, and to have education assessed and certified and, so that the kids can receive their grades and receive certifications of the accomplishments of what level of education they achieved and to be able to use those when they return to Myanmar, so that their education is recognised and accredited when they return. So these are all things, important priorities, for the Rohingya community.

I learn about a pilot program, approximately 400 students who’ve been taught in a program that just does that, pushed the Burmese language in the education programme, that will be an actual, a Burmese curriculum.

But there is still no assesent and in class the instruction is only two hours per week. So there is less, obviously, than what these young students need and what their parents need and I would like to see them have.

So healthcare and other areas are of the concern, the need for a better access to healthcare, livelihood opportunities, being able to earn a living, young people being able to develop skills, so that they can translate them into jobs that pay a decent amount, and all of these are building blocks of a successful repatriation back to Myanmar. And everyone that I talked to, with very few exceptions, among the Rohingya community, when I asked them what the most important goal it was, without question, to return home, to return to Myanmar.

But of course, that can only happen when it could be done in a safe, dignified way and in a way that is sustainable. And under current situation in Myanmar, strictly speaking, it’s not the case.

BNN: Yes, they want to go home. But, for their return, do you see any particular plan from both sides; Bangladesh and Burmese military?

Tom Andrews: There is no particular plan to return at this point because the condition simply don’t allow it. We need to be doing more to apply a much higher stronger degree of pressure on Myanmar military to create the condition where they will be a just and safe environment in which people can return into.

Until that happens, it really can’t happen. As a matter of fact, the only reservations that people had about going home was, the fact that even if they were assured by Min Aung Hlaing and the military junta, that they will be safe and that they could return. They said: how could we believe, how could we trust the very man who commanded the troops that unleasehed these genocidal attacks? How could we believe in what he said? ‘You can return,’ if he ever says we can return.

So they are in a situation that is not, by the stretch of any imagination, ideal. They are living under a challenging condition, primarily, they are living away from home. But we need to stand with them. Make sure that they know that they are not alone. I want to make sure that they understood that they are not forgotten.

I want to learn and understand where they are coming from. And also, of course, it means that we need to make sure that we keep efforts going strong to stand up for all the people of Myanmar who are living under such terrible, terrible conditions under this military. So those two fronts are going to be so important.

BNN: Before the refugees returning home, what kind of actions can the UN and the international community do to the military junta which committed abuses on the Rohingyas?

Tom Andrews: Well, they can do two basic things. One, is to assure that the services, that are needed to live a decent life in exile as refugees, are maintained. The areas that are identified by the Rohingya community: Number one, security. Two, educational opportunities. Three, healthcare. Four, livelihood opportunities. And particulatly for those living on Bacholong island to make sure that the principles embedded in memorandum of understanding between the Banhladesh government and the UN, particularly volunteers and freedom of movement. Those principles are adhered to and respected. So those are the areas identified to me by the Rohingya community that were among those that are the most important.

BNN: I mean, besides those kinds of helping the refugees, taking actions on Min Aung Hlaing and the Burmese military leaders who committed those crimes, how will the UN and international community punish the military, such as trial at the ICC or ICJ?

Tom Andrews: Accountability is key because it was the lack of the accountability that it really led to their belief, it appears to me, that they could commit these atrocious crimes and think that they can get away with it. It is extremely important that they’ll be held accountable. There are various mechanisms, accountability mechanisms, that are available. We need to take advantage of all of them and seize those options. The international crimibal court being one. Universal jurisdiction laws that exist in various countries. The applications of those will be another. The IIMM mechanism (Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar) whereby the evidence that can be used in a court of law, can be, will be accumulated systematically and prepared, systematically they can be used in a court of law. The ICJ, the International Court of Justice, as you mentioned, another. Very important process in which to look into the crime of genocide.

So all of these machanisms are important. And the other is the need to apply increased pressures on the military. To squeeze the revenue resources that enable them to continue the assault on Myanmar people, as well as cutting off access to weapons. Those are the things that the UN and member states of the UN can achieve.


Post a Comment


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More