Over the past two months, more than 600,000 Rohingya people have been driven from their homes, had their land destroyed, and endured torture and rape while searching for safety. Remember what happened in Rwanda? Now, pay attention to Myanmar.
The Rohingya are often described as among the most persecuted people on earth. They are a predominantly Muslim ethnic group, and despite having lived in Myanmar’s Rakhine state for centuries, they’re refused citizenship. For years, their movement has been restricted, and they have been denied access to education, health care, and other basic services.
Under the guise of fighting insurgency, or terrorism, the Rohingya have suffered what the UN has called a “textbook case” of ethnic cleansing. Since 25 August, almost half the Rohingya population in Myanmar has been driven out – one of the fastest movements of people in recent decades.
Bangladesh has opened its borders and is doing what it can, which is a lot for the most densely populated country on earth, already fighting poverty and the consequences of climate change.
The international response to the Rohingya crisis has fallen far short of what’s needed. The UN appeal is still underfunded, and world leaders have not put sufficient political pressure on the government.
Myanmar is no longer a pariah state; it has a democratically elected government and has been flooded with foreign direct investment over the past few years.
The corporations who have invested in this region must speak up and divest, unless human rights are respected, or they too will be complicit in these horrendous acts.
This Friday, world leaders will gather at the Asean summit but the Rohingya crisis is nowhere on the agenda. We call on leaders to pressure the Myanmar government to stop these atrocities, grant the Rohingya citizenship, and allow them to return to a place they call home.
Countries must fully fund the UN appeal and close the funding gap that is leaving traumatized children without basic food, water, and shelter.
Finally, member states of the United Nations must assess what diplomatic efforts can enable them to fulfill their responsibility to protect the Rohingya.
We must not be bystanders to this genocide. We cannot allow people to be slaughtered and burnt out of their homes, while the world watches.
After every atrocity, we say: “Never again.” We must mean it.
Full list of signatories here:
Waris Ahluwalia, Babi Ahluwalia, Sachin Ahluwalia, Riz Ahmed, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Aziz Ansari, Dev Benegal, Gotham Chopra, Nandita Das, Rana Dasgupta, Anil Dash, Kiran Desai, Noureen DeWulf, Geeta Gandbhir, Vikram Gandhi, Shruti Ganguly, Janina Gavankar, Neelam Gill, Maneesh Goyal, Arjun Gupta, Mohsin Hamed, Hitha Prabhakar-Herzog, Anadil Hossain, Vijay Iyer, Sakina Jaffrey, Madhur Jaffrey, Poorna Jagannathan, Riddhika Jesrani, Rega Jha, Mindy KalingRaghu Karnad, Siddhartha Khosla, Hari Kondabolu, Shruti Kumar, Anjali Kumar, Hari Kunzru, Ajay Madiwale, Karan Mahajan, Rekha Malhotra, Aasif Mandvi, Sunita Mani, Nimitt Mankad, Suketu Mehta, Hasan Minhaj, Smriti Mundhra, Ajay Naidu, Aparna Nancherla, Kumail Nanjiani, Karuna Nundy, Maulik Pancholy, Joseph Patel, Shomi Patwary, Freida Pinto, Shaifali Puri, Aniq Rahman, Saira Rao, Zuleikha Robinson, Salman Rushdie, Reema Sampat, Reshma Saujani, Nikil Saval, Sumana Setty, Shiza ShahidKamila Shamsie, Anoushka Shankar, Sheetal Sheth, Sonejuhi Sinha, Madhureeta Goel, Southworth Lakshmi, Sundaram Himanshu Suri, Sonali Thimmaya, Pej Vahdat
Opinion publisehd in The Guardian