• Tweeter
  • republish

Nearly 200,000 Rohingyas demonstrated in Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh to commemorate the second anniversary of the Rohingya crisis on 25 August. REUTERS / Rafting Rahman

Two years ago in Burma, the "Rohingya crisis" began. Persecuted for many years, this Muslim minority in the north of the country then saw the repression intensify and several thousand of its members were forced into exile in Bangladesh. Two years later, the situation of the Rohingyas remains very precarious, RFI returns on the key dates of this crisis.

Persevered for decades by the Burmese government, the situation of the Rohingya has long remained in the shadows. But the abuses suffered by this Muslim minority, to which Naypyidaw refuses the Burmese nationality will burst into the open and make the headlines when Rohingya rebels will attack the Burmese army. The replica of the junta will be ruthless , forcing thousands of Rohingyas to flee Rakhine State to seek refuge in Burma.

  • August 25, 2017 : Rohingya rebels attack the army

On August 25, 2017, the young Rohingya rebellion, active since 2016, is attacking police stations in western Burma. Thirty attacks are launched and at least twelve policemen are killed. This event will tip the situation in Rakhine State. The Burmese junta decides to retaliate by carrying out what it considers to be "anti-terrorist operations". The army leads raids in Rohingya villages. Witnesses then evoke shell and machine gun fire on civilians fleeing to Bangladesh. The army said it had killed 400 rebels but according to opponents of the regime it would be mostly civilians. For its part, the UN speaks of at least 1,000 deaths during the two weeks of repression that followed the attacks of the Rohingya rebellion.

  • September 5, 2017 : the beginning of the mass exodus

To flee the violence of the Burmese army, on September 5, more than 120,000 refugees enter Bangladesh and discover overcrowded refugee camps. At least 300,000 Rohingyas were already there as a result of previous violence. A total of 740,000 Rohingyas are forced into exile.

  • September 19, 2017 : Aung San Suu Kyi comes out of silence

On 19 September, Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi , who has been in power since 2016, says she is open to Rohingya's return, according to ambiguous criteria. She says Burma is ready to organize the repatriation of 410,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh while questioning the persecution of the minority. This does not appease the critics of the international community, which denounces its blurred position on the members of this Muslim minority.

Aung San Suu Kyi July 17, 2019. AFP / Thet Aung

According to some observers, however, Aung San Suu Kyi would have little room for maneuver on the issue of Rohingya in the face of the influence of junta soldiers who still hold key positions in the Burmese government. The image of the Nobel Peace Prize 1992, icon of the struggle for democracy is very largely tarnished. Several institutions even decided to withdraw from him the distinctions that had been attributed to him. In September 2017, South African Desmond Tutu, also Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1984, wrote in an open letter: " If the political price to pay for your accession to the highest public office in Myanmar is your silence , so this price is certainly too high . In November, Aung San Suu Kyi finally goes to the conflict zone.

  • November 23, 2017: agreement for a return of Rohingyas

On 23 November, an agreement with very vague boundaries was signed between Burma and Bangladesh to allow refugees to return within two months, without mentioning the Rohingya. The Burmese government refuses to use the term that the minority uses to designate itself and designate them by the term " Bengalis ". The day after the signing of the agreement, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) believes that the conditions for a return " secure and sustainable " are not met. The text remains stalled and Rohingya refugees remain stranded in Bangladesh.

  • December 5, 2017: UN talks about genocide for the first time

On 5 December, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights refers to " elements of genocide " against the Rohingya and calls for an international investigation. He said on March 6, 2018 that the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas " continues ", with a campaign of " terror and organized famine " to make them flee. On August 27, 2018, UN investigators demand that international justice prosecute Burmese army chief Min Aung Hlaing and five other senior officers for " genocide, " " crimes against humanity, " and " war crimes. " .

  • September 3, 2018: two journalists from Reuters sentenced

On September 3, 2018, two Burmese reporters from Reuters were sentenced to seven years in prison for " breach of state secrecy ." They were investigating the killing of ten Rohingyas during an army operation in western Burma a year earlier. Aung San Suu Kyi will defend their conviction that Burma is a state of law, they can appeal if they wish. Under international pressure, the two journalists will finally be released on May 7, 2019 after more than 500 days of detention.

The two Burmese journalists from Reuters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo escorted by police after a court appearance in Rangoon on August 20, 2018. REUTERS / Ann Wang

  • July 16, 2019: US sanctions against the Burmese army

These are symbolic measures, but they aim to show that the international community continues to put pressure on Burma while the crisis is bogged down. On July 16, 2019, the United States banned Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, No. 2 Soe Win, and two other Burmese generals from traveling to the United States. In September 2018, UN investigators had previously demanded that the Burmese army be excluded from political life by urging the dismissal of senior officers involved in the "genocide".

  • August 22, 2019: the repatriation of 3,500 Rohingyas fails

The Burmese government allows 3,500 Rohingyas to return to Burma. The UN, which wants to avoid any forced return, ensures that it is only repatriation on a voluntary basis. None of the 3,500 returnees, however, presented and this repatriation proved to be a failure. A first attempt had already failed in November 2017. Most Rohingyas refuse to return until they have security guarantees and Burmese nationality will not be granted. Burma still refuses to recognize them as full citizens, and many Rohingyas are afraid of being sent to internment camps or the persecution to return to Burma if they return.

This Sunday, August 25, 2019, nearly 200,000 Rohingyas marched peacefully in a refugee camp in Bangladesh to commemorate the two years of the beginning of the crisis. There are still more than 740,000 stateless people to be stuck in Bangladesh.