Midyear Meeting

Rohingya human rights must be protected, ABA House urges

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Rohingya women board trucks

Newly-arrived Rohingya refugees board trucks to transfer to a temporary shelter after villagers rejected their relocated camp in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. (Photo by CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP via Getty Images)

The House of Delegates is urging the United States and other countries to stop human rights violations and genocide involving the Rohingya, a Muslim minority that lived in Myanmar’s Rakhine state for generations until military crackdowns in 2017 forced nearly 1 million to flee to Bangladesh and other surrounding countries.

“This is a very important matter where the ABA should continue to stand up to protect people from atrocities,” said Sara Sandford, an International Law Section delegate to the House of Delegates, who spoke in favor of Resolution 503.

Resolution 503 builds on a related measure the House adopted in 2019 and addresses significant events that have occurred in Myanmar in the past several years. According to the International Law Section, the resolution’s primary sponsor, this includes the Myanmar military’s coup against the civilian government in 2021, and the U.S. secretary of state’s determination in 2022 that the Myanmar military had “committed genocide and crimes against humanity against Rohingya.” Myanmar was formerly known as Burma.

Follow along with the ABA Journal’s coverage of the 2024 ABA Midyear Meeting here.

The House considered this latest resolution on Monday at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. It specifically asks the U.S. federal government and international entities to:

• Ensure the Rohingya’s voluntary and safe return to the Rakhine state and their active participation in the repatriation process.

• Promote accountability by sanctioning Myanmar military officials under existing U.S. measures, including the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and the Tom Lantos Block Burmese Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts Act.

• Support the International Criminal Court in its investigation into crimes against the Rohingya and the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, which was created through a United Nations resolution to track human rights violations and mass atrocities.

• Encourage compliance with the International Court of Justice’s provisional order instructing Myanmar’s government and military to prevent genocide against the Rohingya and to file biannual reports on the situation.

• Promote the opening of humanitarian corridors for the Rohingya in the Rakhine state and other areas of Myanmar; and continue to work with Bangladesh’s government to remove barriers to humanitarian assistance, support educational and employment opportunities and prevent trafficking of refugees.

• Address corporate complicity in the genocide against the Rohingya, consistent with international guidelines.

Resolution 503, which was co-sponsored by the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, passed overwhelmingly.

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