The Crane Center for Mass Atrocity Prevention and the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council join the United Nations (UN) and numerous other human rights organizations in calling upon the government of Bangladesh to cease its plans for the relocation of Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char. With little to no independent evidence demonstrating Bhasan Char’s ability to sustain safe or extended habitation along with Bangladesh’s refusal to allow the island to be assessed, we can only conclude that those Rohingya who are moved to the island will live in imminent peril.
While the government and people of Bangladesh deserve recognition for their willingness to provide aid and refuge to the Rohingya multiple times over the last half-century, they must continue to live up to their obligations, not just as members of the international community, but to basic human decency. As such, we urge the government of the United States to pressure Bangladesh to halt its plans to relocate the Rohingya to Bhasan Char and to take the following steps:
- Allow all Rohingya currently on Bhasan Char the option to relocate to Cox’s Bazar and other camps with the intention of reuniting families where possible
- Allow for a thorough assessment of Bhasan Char’s sustainability for long-term habitation
- The implementation of a transparent system to ensure all future relocations to Bhasan Char are done with the explicit, informed consent of those to be relocated
- Commit to facilitating third country resettlement of Rohingya refugees by issuing exit visas for those seeking resettlement
- A thorough investigation into the alleged abuse of Rohingya currently on Bhasan Char with the aid of outside investigators
- Allow access to UN and NGO observers for the implementation of all above steps
Further, we urge the government of the United States to take the following steps:
- Commit to working with international partners to facilitate the official recognition of displaced Rohingya as refugees
- Commit to working with international partners to facilitate an end to Rohingya persecution in Myanmar (Burma)
- Commit to working with the International Court of Justice to ensure those responsible for the genocide against the Rohingya are held accountable
Removing the Rohingya from Cox’s Bazar and other camps will not alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya nor will it absolve the world of its obligations. What such a move does risk, however, is the further isolation of one of the world’s largest stateless populations, a group that has been subject to decades of genocidal violence already. It risks putting innumerable Rohingya out of sight on a remote island, under guard, where Amnesty International has already reported abuse. As an international community, we must demand justice and fair treatment for the Rohingya.
We ask you to stand with the Rohingya and lend your voice to our communal effort to end the plight of the Rohingya. This statement, along with the signatures we gather, will be taken to state and federal legislators to encourage real, definitive action.
Click here to sign our joint petition with the Indianapolis JCRC.
Marcus Steiner, CEO