Ambassadors of Bangladesh, Australia, Canada, Indonesia and the United States
I write to seek your commitment to ensure that the human rights of Rohingya refugees, who have fled horrific crimes in Myanmar and sought refuge in Bangladesh, are protected until they feel safe to return to their homes.
Nearly one million Rohingya refugees are living in threadbare camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, after they fled their homes in Myanmar due to the military’s crimes against humanity - which are currently the subject of a case under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide at the International Court of Justice.
Now, COVID-19 has exacerbated the conditions of the Rohingya in the camps. Many Rohingya refugees struggle to access healthcare due to language barriers, ill-treatment from some medical staffs and lack of access to information about availability of healthcare services in the camps.
Women in the camps told Amnesty International that their husbands, aggrieved by the loss of opportunity to work, put pressure on them to bring in money, and were violent towards the women in the household.
More than 100 Rohingya refugees have been allegedly killed in extrajudicial executions between August 2017 and July 2020, according to Odhikar, a Bangladeshi human rights organization.
Rohingya refugees and humanitarian workers have said that barbed-wire fences around the camps have created further obstruction in their movement and response to crisis such as fire incidents in the camps. Thousands of Rohingya men, women and children have been relocated to Bhashan Char, a remote silt island at the Bay of Bengal. Many refugees told Amnesty International that they relocated to the island more out of compulsion rather than a choice. Authorities plan to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees to the island.
The future of nearly half a million Rohingya children hangs in the balance with limited access to an accredited and certified education. With no place to call their home, no livelihood opportunities to secure a future for them, hundreds of Rohingya men, women and children, take dangerous recourse to boat journeys in the sea to go to neighbouring countries every year during the break from monsoon season between October and June.
For decades, the Rohingyas in Myanmar have been denied their rights to nationality, freedom of movement and access to services including education, employment and healthcare. By promoting and protecting their human rights and dignity, the Bangladeshi government and the international community can empower the Rohingya community to claim their rights. That can only happen when they are given a voice in the decisions that affect them.
I urge you to work with Bangladesh’s government to ensure the participation of Rohingya refugees in the decisions that affect them in order to protect their human rights.