From the CEO: Coup in Myanmar

In light of the recent news from Myanmar, it falls upon those of us who lead organizations dedicated to human rights to speak out. In the early hours of 1 February, 2021, members of Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, detained President Win Myint, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, and members of the National League for Democracy across Myanmar. These reports raise concerns of an ongoing coup in the wake of weeks of election conspiracy in the nation.

Such an act is not unheard of in Myanmar’s history, and the execution of the current coup echoes the 1962 takeover by General Ne Win which led to decades of genocidal violence that continue today. It is with that in mind that I, along with my colleagues at the Crane Center and around the world, call for the release of Win Myint, members of the NLD, and Aung San Suu Kyi. It is my fear that failure to release all parties above could lead to widespread violence in Myanmar as the military attempts to put down protests against the detentions.

I also join the call to encourage the Tatmadaw leadership to correct its course and abide by Myanmar’s constitution. Absent that, President Joseph Biden of the United States of America must consider repealing the executive order suspending sanctions against Tatmadaw officials, for this coup acts not only as an affront to the democratic will of the Burmese people but as a shield for those in the Tatmadaw as well as many detained by them who are complicit in genocide.

In Solidarity,
Marcus Steiner
Chief Executive Officer
Crane Center for Mass Atrocity Prevention

On the Relocation of the Rohingya

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.

In solidarity,

Marcus Steiner, CEO

Attack in Darfur (July 25, 2020)

The Crane Center for Mass Atrocity Prevention strongly condemns the escalating violence occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan. On Saturday, July 25, approximately 500 armed militiamen attacked the village of Misterei in West Darfur, killing at least 60 people and destroying approximately 1,500 homesteads. In the days following the July 25 attack, six additional villages have been ransacked and destroyed causing thousands to flee from the violence. The massacres and scorched-earth policies witnessed during attacks over recent weeks are reminiscent of the actions taken by the Janjaweed militia during the height of the genocide in Darfur and are believed to have been carried out by its successor, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). 

The Crane Center for Mass Atrocity Prevention recognizes the increasingly precarious security and humanitarian situation unfolding in Darfur. The protection of civilians is of the utmost importance and we call upon the Sudanese government, United States government and United Nations to take specific measures to uphold the human rights of those living within Darfur:

1) The Sudanese government must provide robust measures of protection, including additional military forces to protect civilians from paramilitary groups murdering, raping and looting with impunity.

2) The Sudanese government must thoroughly investigate and apprehend those responsible for perpetrating ethnically motivated violence against the Masalit in Darfur, including the head of the RSF Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo.

3) The United States government must re-impose sanctions on the Sudanese government for their lackadaisical response to the ethnic violence that has been steadily increasing in number and virulence since January 2020.

4) The United Nations Security Council must postpone talks of a drawdown process of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) until security of the population and food resources within the region can be sustainably stabilized; human rights and civic processes can be justly upheld; and the democratic transition of the Sudanese government has been successfully carried out.

We stand in support of our friends and allies living within Darfur and within our own community. Visit Darfur Women Network to learn how you can help.