Save the Children Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s announcement today that it has imposed targeted financial sanctions and travel bans against five Myanmar military officers in relation to atrocities committed against Rohingya in Rakhine State last year.
This comes after the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, released in August, found patterns of serious human rights violations and abuses in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States, in addition to serious violations of international humanitarian law. These were found to be “principally committed by the Myanmar security forces, particularly the military”.
Save the Children Australia director of policy and international programs Mat Tinkler said the Australian Government’s announcement is a positive first step following the shocking findings of the Fact-Finding Mission.
“Save the Children Australia has consistently called for Australia to use its seat on the Human Rights Council and its regional influence to demand justice for the Rohingya,” Mr Tinkler said.
“We welcome these sanctions announced as a step toward justice for the horrific crimes reportedly committed or facilitated by these officers and the units under their command.”
Since September 2017, an estimated 700,000 Rohingya refugees have been driven out of Myanmar and fled to Bangladesh because of violence and atrocities in Rakhine State. A further 129,000 Rohingya people – an estimated 60,000 of them children – are languishing in Myanmar in 23 internally displaced persons camps.
“Many thousands of children have been subjected to and witnessed some of the most serious human rights violations imaginable at the hands of the Myanmar military and this cannot be tolerated by the international community,” Mr Tinkler said.
“Children and their families have been murdered, sexually assaulted and forced to flee burning villages, and they have not yet seen the justice they deserve, but this move by the Australian Government is a step in the right direction.”
Save the Children Australia calls on the Government of Myanmar and the Myanmar military to facilitate the investigation of violations of children’s rights committed in northern Rakhine State in order to ensure accountability for any crimes committed, including through international mechanisms, such as the Human Rights Council’s Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and to allow unimpeded access to human rights observers.
Save the Children has been responding to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, since 2012. From September 2017, the aid agency dramatically scaled up operations, reaching more than 637,000 newly arrived Rohingya, including through distributions of food, hygiene, shelter and household items, by setting up ten emergency health posts, installing more than 500 latrines and 30 deep tube wells, and running more than 100 centres that support children’s wellbeing and learning in their mother tongue, Rohingya.
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