In August 2017, the Myanmar Armed Forces began a violent crackdown on the country’s Rohingya Muslim population, which led to the exodus of nearly 740,000 people to neighboring Bangladesh.
The crucial dates of five years of crisis:
– Military operations –
On August 25, 2017, militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) carry out coordinated attacks on police posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and kill at least ten police officers.
The military responds with operations in Rohingya villages, supposedly to drive out the insurgents.
400 dead rebels were reported, but opponents say civilians account for the majority of casualties.
The UN says at least 1,000 people lost their lives in the first two weeks of military operations.
– Refugee exodus –
As of September 5, more than 120,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh, crowding its squalid refugee camps.
At least 200,000 Rohingya were already in the country, drawn from previous waves of violence.
– Suu Kyi breaks the silence –
International revolt mounts against Myanmar. Soldiers are accused of looting Rohingya homes and some world leaders claim “ethnic cleansing”.
In her first statement on the crisis, Myanmar’s civilian leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi vows on Sept. 19 to hold human rights violators accountable, but refuses to blame the military.
– Possible “genocide” –
On November 23, Bangladesh and Myanmar agree to start repatriating refugees. But the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that the necessary conditions for their safe return are not met and the process is interrupted.
UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warns on December 5 of possible “elements of genocide” and calls for an international investigation.
– Courts and sanctions –
On August 25, 2018, tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees organize protests to mark the first anniversary of their exodus.
UN investigators are calling for the Myanmar army commander and five top military officials to be prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
In November, an attempt to repatriate 2,260 Rohingyas fails as they refuse to leave without security guarantees.
– Reporters arrested –
On September 3, two Reuters journalists are sentenced to seven years in prison, accused of violating Burmese state secrets law after they reported a massacre of Rohingyas.
They spent more than 500 days in detention, before being released thanks to a presidential pardon.
– US sanctions –
On July 16, 2019, Washington announces sanctions against the Myanmar army commander and three other high-ranking military officers.
About 3,500 Rohingya refugees are allowed to return home, but none show up to make the journey on Aug. 22.
– Increase legal challenges –
On 11 November, The Gambia files a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Myanmar of genocide for its treatment of the Rohingya.
Three days later, the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague, authorizes a full investigation into the persecution of the Rohingya.
In the same week, a third case is opened in Argentina under the principle of universal jurisdiction.
– Suu Kyi in court –
On 10 December, The Gambia presents its case to the ICJ with Suu Kyi personally leading the defense of Myanmar. She refutes accusations of genocide, denying the “misleading and incomplete” allegations and insisting that Myanmar faces an “internal armed conflict”.
She admits that the military may have used excessive force.
– Court ruling –
In its judgment of 23 January 2020, the ICJ orders Myanmar to take urgent measures to prevent the alleged genocide and to submit information within four months.
– No jurisdiction –
The military staged a coup on February 1, 2021 and began a violent repression.
Suu Kyi is arrested, remains under house arrest and is later sentenced to 17 years in prison.
– USA considers that there is genocide –
The United States government officially declares on March 21, 2022 that the Rohingya were victims of genocide in 2017.
The ICJ determines on 22 July that the process initiated by The Gambia can go ahead.
– Murders in the fields –
On August 10, two leaders of the Rohingya community are murdered in a refugee camp, the latest in a series of killings there.
Rohingya sources blame ARSA, accused of introducing narcotics, killing political opponents and instilling a climate of fear in the camps.
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