Opening statement "Rohingya crisis in fourth year: challenges in securing a sustainable solution"

Bilge Koçyiğit Grba 16.09.2020
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to begin by thanking all of you for joining us at this meeting which Turkey is pleased to be a co-host, along with Bangladesh, Canada and Saudi Arabia.

Situation in Myanmar is “one of the world’s worst humanitarian and human rights crisis”, as referred to by the Secretary-General, and it continues to cause grave concern to the international community.

As the world is facing an unprecedented challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the dire humanitarian situation and the vulnerability of refugees and internally displaced persons give rise to further concern. The Government of Myanmar must allow unhindered access for all local and international aid agencies to provide humanitarian assistance in all parts of the Rakhine and Chin States, including IDP camps. This is more urgent than ever.

Despite the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire, recent military escalation in Rakhine and Chin States risks exacerbating the already complex situation. We call upon the Government of Myanmar to prioritize the safety and well-being of all people in the Rakhine State and address the long-term underlying causes of conflict. This includes creating conditions conducive to the return of refugees.

The voluntary, safe and dignified repatriation of Rohingya to Myanmar and their reintegration in Rakhine State is the only way forward to reach a lasting solution to this problem. Unfortunately, we see that current conditions are far from being conducive to the return of Rohingya. We call on Myanmar to fully implement the Rakhine Advisory Commission and the Independent Commission of Inquiry recommendations within the framework of a reasonable and limited timetable to ensure the reintegration of the Rohingya into the Myanmarese society on the basis of equal citizenship.

It is also clear that without holding the perpetrators accountable for their crimes, ensuring voluntary and sustainable return of Rohingya to Myanmar will not be possible. Accountability is not only about mere punishment. Indeed, the victims need justice and closure. But accountability is more than that, it is a primary condition for preventing the re-occurrence of such crimes in the future. To that end, we call on Myanmar to fully cooperate with the Independent Investigation Mechanism for Myanmar.

In this context, we welcome the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice in January this year, as the first international court ruling against Myanmar since the atrocities have started. It is a solid ruling and has given hope to Rohingya Muslims around the world.

We commend the remarkable and exemplary work of Gambia who demonstrated the importance of human rights and dignity, and has made it a national priority to fight for accountability for the Rohingya.

Since the beginning, we have been supporting the Gambia’s initiative as a member of the OIC Ad Hoc Ministerial Committee on accountability for human rights violations against the Rohingya.

We are pleased to see that the Court, in its ruling, widely referred to the related General Assembly resolution which was once again co-tabled by the OIC and the EU last year. This is another testimony to the strength of the UN membership in amplifying the voice of the international community.

We expect Myanmar to comply with the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice in line with its obligations under international law.

Distinguished participants,

I would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the Government of Bangladesh for opening its doors to these innocent people and hosting them for more than three years now.

As the representative of a country that hosts the world’s largest refugee population, due to the massive displacement caused by the conflict in Syria, I fully acknowledge the immense challenges faced by this country.

Although in different parts of the world, Turkey and Bangladesh similarly bear the brunt of emergency situations next door. The international community urgently needs to increase its support to meet the humanitarian needs of the displaced Rohingya community. UN Joint Humanitarian Response Plan is a welcome step in that direction.

On our side, we have been doing our utmost to help alleviate the immense suffering of the Rohingya people. Since the onset of the crisis, official aid agencies and several NGOs from Turkey have been conducting humanitarian activities in Cox’s Bazar, from nutrition and health to education and sheltering, in cooperation with the Government of Bangladesh and relevant UN agencies.

In Myanmar, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency TİKA has been carrying out aid programmes in Rakhine State not only for Rohingya Muslims but also for Buddhist Rakhines to encourage peaceful coexistence. Also, the Turkish Red Crescent continues to channel humanitarian assistance through its office in Yangon. We will not leave our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh alone to face this tragedy.

In closing, I would like to reiterate Turkey’s commitment to work with Myanmar, Bangladesh and all other stakeholders to find an enduring solution to the Rohingya crisis. By the same token, we will continue to support the international mechanisms established vis-à-vis Myanmar in fulfilling their mandates given by the relevant UN resolutions.

Thank you.

Feridun Hadi Sinirlioğlu Ambassador