Since military operations in Rakhine State escalated in August 2017, an estimated 720,000, predominantly Rohingya, refugees have fled to Bangladesh. A significant number of Rohingya civilians were also internally displaced within Rakhine State and 128,000 people remain in IDP camps having fled previous bouts of violence. Recent months have again witnessed an escalation of violence in Rakhine State and neighbouring Chin State due to ongoing conflict between the Myanmar Security Forces and ethnic armed groups. The situation remains unstable with increasing violence generating further displacement of civilians.
Ireland remains deeply concerned over the findings of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (IIFFM), and other special mandate holders regarding gross human rights violations committed by the Myanmar Military Forces (Tatmadaw), many of which amount to the gravest crimes under international law.
These include a finding by the IIFFM that there is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Tatmadaw chain of command, so that a competent court can determine their liability for genocide in relation to the situation in Rakhine State. Ireland, together with our EU partners, has consistently called for the accountability of those who may be responsible for such crimes and has engaged in a number of actions at international level in this regard.
The EU Foreign Affairs Council has adopted a series of Council Conclusions addressing gross human rights violations in Myanmar’s Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States. These conclusions press for Myanmar to take meaningful action towards the creation of conditions conducive to a safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of those displaced to their places of origin and to hold to account those responsible for criminal acts.
The EU has also worked with our international partners to press for action at UN level including acting as pen-holder on several key initiatives including the establishment of both the UNHRC mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission and the recently operational Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar. These are important steps in ensuring accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims.
On 11 November 2019, The Gambia submitted an application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) alleging breaches of the Genocide Convention by Myanmar. Officials in my Department, including in the Irish Embassy in The Hague, are monitoring this case closely.
Ireland will continue to work with our EU and other international partners to press for a long-term sustainable resolution to the Rohingya crisis that will provide a pathway for refugees to safely return and to urge Myanmar to hold to account those responsible for serious criminal acts.