Japan should use its United Nations Security Council presidency to end three and a half months of deadlock in the face of ongoing crimes against humanity targeting the Rohingya in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, Amnesty International said today.

The Security Council will again discuss the situation of Myanmar’s Rohingya on Tuesday 12 December, a week after the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution condemning the ongoing violations against them and other ethnic minorities in the country. The resolution was accompanied by a warning from the High Commissioner for Human Rights that recent military operations in western Rakhine state could include ‘elements of genocide.’

“The United Nations Security Council’s woefully inadequate response to this crisis has been disgraceful. Since late August, more than 620,000 Rohingya people have fled unspeakable atrocities, yet the Council has issued only a single statement – this fails to match the gravity of the situation on the ground,” said Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN office in New York.

“Japan’s Security Council presidency faces a moment of truth: will its legacy include sitting idly by while hundreds of thousands of Rohingya faced ethnic cleansing on top of a longstanding apartheid regime in Myanmar’s Rakhine State? The Security Council must build on last week’s Human Rights Council resolution by imposing an arms embargo, and targeted sanctions on Myanmar’s military leadership.

“Myanmar’s authorities must immediately allow unfettered access to the UN Fact-Finding Mission, humanitarian aid and independent human rights monitors into the country, and into northern Rakhine State in particular. This is crucial to expose the truth, lay the groundwork for accountability for atrocities against Rohingya women, men and children, and ensure the voluntary, safe and dignified return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees.”

Amnesty International is also calling on the UN Security Council to take concrete steps to ensure accountability for crimes against humanity in Myanmar, following a call by the UN Special Rapporteur on Sexual Violence and the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva last week.


In a resolution adopted last week, the UN Human Rights Council condemned the systematic and gross violations of human rights in Myanmar, in particular against the Rohingya in Rakhine State. Burundi, China and the Philippines voted against the measure, but 33 states voted in favour, with nine states, including Japan, abstaining.

More than 620,000 people have fled into Bangladesh in a matter of months as security forces unleashed a targeted campaign of violence against the Rohingya: killing an unknown number of women, men and children; raping women and girls; laying landmines; and burning entire Rohingya villages.

Rohingya people who remain in the country are trapped in a dehumanizing state-sponsored system of apartheid, where virtually every aspect of their lives is severely restricted. Dismantling this system of apartheid is essential to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled Myanmar.

Amnesty International has also documented how Myanmar’s security forces are committing wide-ranging violations against other ethnic minorities, in particular in Kachin and northern Shan States. These include extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture and forced labour.