Since the most recent escalation of violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar, last year, Ireland has been actively engaged with our international partners with the aim of easing the crisis, promoting a political solution and ascertaining the facts on the ground to ensure accountability for crimes and other violations of human rights that have occurred. This has been done both through bilateral contacts in Myanmar and via participation in the EU and UN responses.
Ireland has consistently called for an independent and impartial investigation into the serious and credible allegations of human rights violations by the Myanmar security forces. These include reports of widespread killing of civilians, sexual and gender based violence, arbitrary arrests, and the burning of Rohingya villages which have led to the mass exodus of refugees the Deputy has referred to.
In that regard, we have strongly supported the extension of the mandates of the UN Fact Finding Mission and UN Special Rapporteur to Myanmar Yanghee Lee, and have asked the Government of Myanmar to cooperate with them and allow them access to the country. Their work in investigating and recording victim testimony, so that it can be preserved for further criminal proceedings, is crucial to ensuring full accountability.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has referred to some of the reported actions committed by the Myanmar Security Forces as a “text book example of ethnic cleansing” while Special Rapporteur Lee has expressed concerns that these actions“bear the hallmarks of genocide”. Ireland shares these concerns which absolutely reinforce the urgent need for the Government of Myanmar to provide access to the UN Fact Finding Mission so that these human rights violations can be fully investigated.
Ireland has also actively engaged in the formation of the EU’s position including in the most recent EU Foreign Affairs Council’s Council Conclusions on Myanmar, which were adopted on 26 February last. These conclusions condemn the human rights violations in Myanmar, support the mandates of the Fact Finding Mission and Special Rapporteur and call for targeted restrictive measures against senior military officers of the Myanmar armed forces responsible for these acts. I would like to express my support of these conclusions and hope that they will send a clear message to those in military control in Myanmar.
I am aware that there are plans currently underway to designate 25 August as Rohingya Remembrance Day in Ireland. Successful efforts by civil society to ensure that the plight of the Rohingya remains in the public eye are helpful and I have been encouraged by the strong public response there has been in Ireland to events in Myanmar.
My Department will continue to keep in touch with representatives of the Rohingya Community in Ireland and will also liaise closely with EU and other international partners to press for progress in resolving this crisis including through our Embassy in Thailand who are closely monitoring the situation.