Bangkok, 14 September 2015
The Equal Rights Trust and the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University, have launched an International Coalition on Rohingya Rights at an international forum in Bangkok convened by the two organisations.
Bringing together representatives of the Rohingya community, civil society organisations, academics and representatives of governments and international agencies, the international forum provided a space to discuss the plight of the Rohingya and to develop strategies for enhancing the protection of their rights. The forum highlighted the fact that the Rohingya continue to be subjected to one of the most serious and sustained campaigns of ethno-religious discrimination and persecution anywhere in the world.
Since 1982, when Myanmar introduced a Citizenship Law which effectively deprived them of their citizenship, the Rohingya have been subjected to a range of discriminatory laws and practices. These range from restrictions on travel, interference with marital and reproductive rights and arbitrary taxation to forced labour and discrimination in access to healthcare and education. The situation continues to deteriorate. This forum received evidence that international humanitarian agencies were denied access to Rohingya flood victims in North Rakhine State and Rohingya at the forum expressed their fear that they would be denied the right to vote in the coming elections on 8 November.
At the regional level, the terrible situation faced by those Rohingya who flee Myanmar for the other countries in the region has again come into focus in recent months. In May this year, states in the region agreed to allow Rohingya stranded at sea to disembark on their shores only in the wake of widespread condemnation of their indifference. At the same time, mass graves were discovered at trafficking camps in Malaysia and Thailand. These two developments highlight the failure of states in the region to meet their basic humanitarian and human rights obligations.
Speaking after the event, Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director of the Equal Rights Trust said:
"In response to the worsening situation of the Rohingya in both Myanmar and the wider region, we are today announcing the formation of an International Coalition on Rohingya Rights. This coalition will have the single objective of advocating for the improved protection of the rights of Rohingya people in Myanmar and the Rohingya refugees in the wider region."
The Coalition’s founding members are: Equal Rights Trust (International); Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University (Thailand); Smile Education and Development Foundation (Myanmar); Counter Foto (Bangladesh); and the Bar Council of Malaysia Migrants, Refugees and Immigration Affairs Committee (Malaysia).
We invite individuals, organisations and institutions which share our aims to join us. Those wanting to join the International Coalition should please email Tayyiba Bajwa, Advocacy and Programmes Assistant, Equal Rights Trust, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.