How we Protect the Rights of the Rohingya
The Rohingya are victims of one of the most serious and sustained campaigns of ethno-religious discrimination in the world today. To escape this, they often take a perilous journey from their native Rakhine State, Myanmar to other countries in the region, namely, to Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand. In these countries they continue to face discrimination as a result of their statelessness which leads to significant challenges in accessing basic rights such as education, health and legitimate employment. This in turn makes them vulnerable to exploitation, more likely to be trapped in poverty and increases stigma against them.
Since 2010, the Equal Rights Trust has used its advocacy, litigation, research and supporting equality movement programmes to improve the lives of the Rohingya. Some of our key outputs are outlined below.
Our key resources on the Rohingya have looked at the legal and policy frameworks in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand and have demonstrated how these are failing to provide adequate protection to the Rohingya. They have documented the "cycle of flight" taken by those in search of a better life and outlined explicitly how precarious a journey this is - as they travel from Myanmar to Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand they often fall into the hands of human traffickers or are left stranded at sea.
- Confined Spaces, Legal Protections for Rohingya in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand (2016).
- The International Legal Framework [Thai-language version] | Legal Analysis: Holes and Hopes for Rohingya in Thailand [Thai-language version] (2016)
- The International Legal Framework [Bengali-language version] | Legal Status of the Rohingya in Bangladesh: Refugee, Stateless or Status Less [Bengali-language version] (2016)
- Equal Only in Name: The Human Rights of Stateless Rohingya in Malaysia (2014)
- Equal Only in Name: The Human Rights of Stateless Rohingya in Thailand (2014)
- Trapped in a Cycle of Flight: Stateless Rohingya in Malaysia (2010)
- Unravelling Anomaly: the Detention, Discrimination and Protection Needs of Stateless Persons (2010)
- Testimony from Rohingya Activist, Wai Wai Nu, Equal Rights Review, Volume 16 (2016)
Calls for Action
In addition to our key resources, we have made a number of calls to country governments and the international community during times where increased pressure and awareness raising has been necessary. Some of our calls include the following:
- Time is Running Out for Rohingya Minority (May 2016)
- Equal Rights Trust Developments Knowledge on Statelessness, Sustainable Development and the Law (September 2016)
- Equality Advocates Cannot Welcome Aung San Suu Kyi's Victory in Myanmar (November 2015)
- Equal Rights Trust and Partners Launch Rohingya Rights Coalition (September 2015)
- Equal Rights Trust and Partners Focus on Protecting Stateless Rohingya Under UNHCR - NGO Consultations (June 2015)
- Myanmar Enacts Discriminatory Population Control Law Further Threatening Rohingya (June 2015)
- UN Must Intervene to End Persecution and Discrimination Against Rohingya (May 2015)
Blogs on the Issue
- Discrimination and the Human Security of Stateless People (2014)
- A stateless person, a refugee and an irregular migrant walk into a bar…(2014)
Supporting Equality Movements
We have worked with activists in the Asian region, including lawyers, journalists and other stakeholders to promote the rights of the Rohingya. This has included enhancing their knowledge on the international legal framework on equality and non-discrimination, building their skills to document discrimination and helping them to advocate to policy makers and others effectively.
In 2015, we established the International Coalition on Rohingya Rights, uniting key organisations in the region so that together, our work promoting the rights of the Rohingya can be co-ordinated and strengthened. The founding members of the coalition include: Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University (Thailand); Smile Education and Development Foundation (Myanmar); Counter Foto (Bangladesh); and Bar Council of Malaysia Migrants, Refugees and Immigration Affairs Committee (Malaysia).
In 2016 in partnership with Counter Foto we held four photography exhibitions in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and India. The exhibitions, entitled, "136" displayed the work of award-winning photographer and Rohingya rights activist, Saiful Huq Omi.
Among other things the exhibitions captured the hardship faced by the Rohingya, particularly those who have fled to Bangladesh and Malaysia, it documented their perilous journey by sea, and it depicted what life is like for those living in and outside official UN-operated refugee camps in Bangladesh. Click here to view some of the images featured at the exhibitions.
News Coverage of the Exhibitions:
- Flight and Plight of Rohingya Captured in Photos
- Bangkok gallery hosts “No. 136”: A Rohingya Photography Exhibition
- 136 A Rohingya Photography Exhibition
- 136: Rohingya Photography Exhibition Opens in Kuala Lumpur
- Photographer uses social media to highlight Rohingya as mainstream media ‘one-sided’
We also supported Saiful Huq Omi to tell the story of Rohingya seeking refuge in Bangladesh and who outline their experiences in the following videos:
To watch our other films please visit our YouTube channel.