Thursday, October 6

5th anniversary of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar: UK statement

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The UK announces new sanctions and legal action in support of Myanmar’s Rohingya community.

Press release

The UK has announced a further round of sanctions to target military-linked businesses in Myanmar. Those being sanctioned include Star Sapphire Group of Companies, International Gateways Group of Companies Limited (IGG) and Sky One Construction Company Ltd. They are being sanctioned in an effort to limit the military’s access to arms and revenue.

Minister for Asia Amanda Milling has also confirmed the UK’s intention to intervene in the case of The Gambia v. Myanmar before the International Court of Justice. The case will determine whether Myanmar has violated its obligations under the Genocide Convention in relation to the military’s acts against the Rohingya in 2016 and 2017.

The Myanmar Armed Forces launched a devastating attack on Rohingya communities living in Rakhine State, Myanmar on 25 August 2017. A UN Fact Finding Mission report stated that over 10,000 Rohingya were killed and 740,000 displaced into neighbouring Bangladesh.

The report also claimed Myanmar Armed Forces engaged in a campaign of sexual violence, grave violations against children, torture and village burnings. These are the hallmarks of a military acting with impunity, and the UK notes its grave concern that they are employing these tactics in their current operations against pro-democracy groups in Myanmar.

The UK has been clear that what happened to the Rohingya was ethnic cleansing and remains committed to taking action to stop the brutality of the Myanmar Armed Forces and hold them to account.

Minister for Asia Amanda Milling said:

The UK will always face down those who seek to undermine and destroy our values of freedom and democracy. Five years on, we continue to stand in solidarity with the Rohingya people and condemn the Myanmar Armed Forces’ horrific campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Our decision to intervene in The Gambia v. Myanmar case and a further round of sanctions sends a strong signal of our continued support to seek accountability for the atrocities in 2017 and also restrict the military junta’s access to finance and the supply of arms.

The violence in 2017 was the result of an attempt, over generations, to destroy the Rohingya identity. The 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Rakhine State have been stripped of their citizenship and face systemic discrimination restricting the freedom of movement and access to healthcare. The UK now reiterates the call for the abolition of the 1982 Citizenship Law and the restoration of Rohingya citizenship.

Since 2017 the UK has provided £330 million in aid to the camps, supporting food needs, shelter, sanitation, education, medical and protection services.

The case of The Gambia v. Myanmar is being heard before the International Court of Justice, in The Hague. The case will determine whether Myanmar has violated its obligations under the Genocide Convention in relation to the Military’s acts against the Rohingya in 2016 and 2017.

Proceedings to date have focused on important procedural issues. On 22 July 2022, in response to preliminary objections raised by Myanmar, the Court found it has jurisdiction to hear the case and that Gambia’s application was admissible. The case will now proceed to the merits phase, during which substantive arguments on the interpretation, application and/or fulfillment of the Genocide Convention will be made.

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