NUG must appoint an ethnic Rohingya envoy to implement new policy: Fortify Rights

Rohingya refugee children look on at the Jamtoli camp in the morning in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, 22 January 2018.
Reuters file photo

The National Unity Government (NUG) of Myanmar should appoint an ethnic Rohingya representative to help it implement and expand upon its new policy on the rights of Rohingya people, human rights NGO Fortify Rights has said.

The NUG has issued a new 'Policy Position on the Rohingya in Rakhine State', acknowledging the rights of the Rohingya and the atrocities they faced in Myanmar.

The statement represents a monumental shift from the persecution of the Rohingya by the military junta as well as previous governments, which routinely denied their existence as well as evidence of mass atrocity crimes they suffered, according to Fortify Rights.

“This is an important moment for the Rohingya people and Myanmar as a whole,” said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer of Fortify Rights, on Thursday.

“This new policy establishes a foundation for the future realisation of Rohingya rights in Myanmar, and for a more unified path to democracy.”

The statement commits the NUG to ensuring justice and accountability for crimes against the Rohingya in Myanmar.

“We will actively seek justice and accountability for all crimes committed by the military against the Rohingya and all other people of Myanmar throughout our history,” the statement read.

“We intend, if necessary, to initiate processes to grant (the) International Criminal Court jurisdiction over crimes committed within Myanmar against the Rohingya and other communities.”

The NUG is committed to "abolishing" the National Verification Card process, which is coercive and requires the Rohingya to identify as foreigners.

The NUG has further committed to ensuring citizenship rights based “on birth in Myanmar or birth anywhere as a child of Myanmar citizens", which would effectively restore or grant full citizenship rights of all Rohingya people and others.

The NUG has also affirmed its commitment to “voluntary, safe, and dignified repatriation” of Rohingya refugees to Rakhine State.

The NUG cabinet currently does not include any Rohingya representatives. Established on April 16 by elected legislators and others ousted in the 1 February military coup d’état, the NUG has 26 ministers and four executives, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, who both remain imprisoned by the junta.

“The NUG should appoint a Rohingya envoy to liaise with Rohingya people and to ensure Rohingya concerns are adequately represented and addressed by the cabinet,” said Matthew Smith. “This new policy is a positive first step in that direction.

In addition to appointing a Rohingya representative, the NUG should continue to prioritise meaningful consultation with Rohingya people globally, including Rohingya women, said Fortify Rights.